Our Castle

Exterior

We moved into our current home about 18 months ago, 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. It’s taken us most of that time to get completely moved in, unpacked and get to know our “new” abode.

It’s also entailed some serious stretching out since we nearly tripled the space we had in our little cottage. This explains why all rooms in the current photos look downright bare — we have 1,100 SQFT furniture and knickknacks spaced throughout a 3,400 SQFT house.

In the last four months, we’ve slowly begun to make changes. 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 is more of a courtship to me: minimizing flaws, enhancing attributes, learning to bring out the best in each other.

Nothing in the house has been “decorated,” per se. Instead, I’ve been focusing on stripping the not inconsiderable embellishments of window treatments, fabric, wallpaper and faux finishes to get to the bones of the house. Hanging pictures and putting out our “stuff” will come later.

Things are slowly taking shape, though most is still in the planning phase. Here are a few “before and during” comparisons — because we’re not anywhere near “after” — to see our progress.

In case you’re wondering, my name is not NORES. We just didn’t take any photos before we started painting, so the only truly “before” pictures I have of some of the house are from the real estate website back in 2008. If that’s illegal, my apologies.

[You’ll note from the following photos that the previous owners had very charming taste — it’s just not my taste. They also had furniture.]

Entry - BEFORE

Foyer - DURING

The only major change here has been the wall color. We painted the entire main part of the downstairs a color called “Woven Straw” (Behr Ultra Premium). It’s a warm, golden brown, almost a taffy color and I’m very happy with it. The original 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. The Woven Straw seems to warm up the whole entry without being dark.

TO DO: I would love to redo the stairs. I want to stain the banister, stair returns and bottom step a very dark espresso color. I would love to replace the carpet with actual wooden treads and add a Dash & Albert stair runner, but the cost of the woodwork is really too impractical to consider. I’m trying to swallow my hatred for “fake stairs” and resign myself to replacing the carpet instead. Also, the downstairs woodwork is painted off white and I am considering going to real white for a crisper look. Obviously, I need to add some artwork and I will. Eventually.

Study - BEFORE

No “during” picture for the Study as it is currently Scott’s office and a bit of a catchall room.

TO DO: I would like to eventually repaint to a color that complements Woven Straw and decorate the room appropriately, but for the most part, it’s fine as-is.

Dining Room - BEFORE

This is actually the current view of the Dining Room because only the furnishings have changed. I don’t absolutely hate this room but it’s too French Country for my taste. Much like the Study, I want to repaint something which complements Woven Straw, and perhaps do some type of additional woodwork below the chair rail. Or maybe paint a geometric pattern on the upper wall. My sister-in-law pointed out that the red ceiling was meant to draw the eye upward and give it the illusion of “infinity.” However, it’s still not me. I would love to install some white tongue-and-groove siding on the ceiling instead.

Kitchen - BEFORE

Kitchen - DURING

Again, the walls are Woven Straw. New fridge.

TO DO: We’re very close to buying a new stainless steel double oven and I hope a new stainless cooktop and dishwasher will follow someday. The first big priority is replacing the hideous gray tile backsplash, probably with white subway tile. I would also like to repaint the kitchen cabinets white, although the enormity of that project only makes me sigh. I actually like the rustic finish on them but am just sick of yellow. I thought repainting the walls would break up the yellow-ness enough to get me through, but it hasn’t. We’d also like to add some new light fixtures, particularly over the cooktop.

Kitchen - Backsplash

Breakfast Room - BEFORE

Breakfast Room - DURING

Not much has changed in the Breakfast Room except the denudation of an excess of fabric and fringe. Paint also Woven Straw.

TO DO: I need to recover the window seat, perhaps in a ticking stripe, and finish an array of pillows for it. Window treatments — probably natural fiber Roman shades — to follow. I think I will repaint the chandelier rather than replace it. I also plan on recovering the mini shades. My first ambition was to create mini shades out of birch bark but I was thwarted in my quest for acceptable materials. My next option may be to use upholstery webbing.

Living Room - BEFORE

Living Room - DURING

Nothing new here except the wall color. Could it be… Woven Straw? Why, yes.

TO DO: Don’t tell my hubby but I have my eye on painting the brick fireplace surround white. (It’s very nice brick, but it just craves white, to me.) Besides the obvious decorating that needs to be done, I’m trying to puzzle out the window treatment situation. The wall opposite the armoire has a door-with-attached-window setup that I’d like to cover with natural Roman shades and drapes but I’m trying to decide how to “divide” the door and window with the draperies. I’m also desperate to slipcover the chairs and add some additional furniture. I would love to replace the carpet with wood flooring.

Half Bath - BEFORE

Here is the little half bath, as it was when we bought the house except that our sons have systematically dismantled the towel bars and toilet paper roller.

TO DO: Banish the toile wallpaper from whence it came. Some people might keep it because at least it’s black and white, but the installation of which was pretty poorly done. I’d like to replace it with tongue-and-groove siding or board-and-batten, up to about 4′ or so and painted in white satin; the upper wall would be painted in a light color, perhaps a robin’s egg blue. Replacing the cultured marble with a granite vanity top would be great, too.

Master BDRM - BEFORE

Master BDRM - DURING

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. Not only is the “during” picture totally crooked but the wall color looks yellow, which it is not. See the photo below for a better view of the color, which is Wax Sculpture (Behr Ultra Premium).

TO DO: In addition to window treatments, I plan to paint the ceiling Woven Straw. I dislike the architecture of the ceiling — it looks clunky and awkward to me — and think adding a darker, warm color will help disguise what I see as a flaw. The ceiling fan is dated and the carpet begs to be replaced with wood flooring, but carpet may be the way we have to go.

Master BDRM - Ceiling

Master Bath - BEFORE

Master Bath - BEFORE

The “before” photos show much more clearly what the 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.

TO DO: We have a major remodel of this bathroom in the works as we speak. One post will not be sufficient to describe all that is in store — none of which can be finalized until I finish taking bids and complete the budget anyway — so more on that subject is sure to follow.

Bedroom 1 - BEFORE

No “during” photo here but this is currently our nursery. Painting over the cowboy faux finish is a priority that remains outstanding, but I have yet to pick a color. It may not get made over until we have another baby…

Bedroom 2 - BEFORE

Bedroom 2 - DURING

New wall color is Cumberland Fog. We also replaced the ceiling fan. I love the window seat!

TO DO: I’ll be making the curtains, bedskirts and duvets for the beds out of old menswear: ties, button-downs and suits. I’d like to paint the beds and add linen panels with monograms to the ends of the footboards.

Sewing Room - BEFORE

No “during” photo as this is now my Sewing Room and in a constant state of creative chaos. I like the wall color but it’s starting to look too faded. Eventual painting may be indicated.

Playroom - BEFORE

Again, I have no “during” picture to offer as it looks pretty much the same. Except messier and with different toys. And with two patches of melted carpet shaped exactly like my clothes iron…

TO DO: We plan to build some storage, either by knocking into the right-hand pony wall and/or installing some built-in bookcases and desks on the far wall around the windows. Repainting and recarpeting will precede our putting the house up for sale by about two days. We daren’t do it sooner.

More updates to follow as our progress continues.

2 Responses to Our Castle

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