Behind the Scenes of Working With an Interior Designer

Behind the Scenes of Working With an Interior Designer

It's safe to say that interior design has become much more approachable.  All the home design and decorating programs and sites have helped demystify interior design, and in many cases, made it something more attainable than ever before.

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Curb Appeal

For the first two years in our home, we spent most our time, energy and budget on changes to the interior. We did a lot of reclaiming of yard from the parkland that borders our property, and did some landscaping, but, for the most part, the exterior of the house sat untouched.

 I've made no bones about the fact that this house was not love at first sight - but I've always thought it had potential, and craved some personality, and that describes the exterior as well.  It's nicely situated higher than street level, and sort of begs to have presence.  I always strive to take a house to its best potential, and that has been the driving force in me with this house - the unmet potential.

The style of our home is traditional - a typical colonial revival dating to the 1970s, built with brick and metal siding. The siding was faded, and needed to be cleaned, but otherwise, it was in good condition (i.e. no hailstorm dents, etc)  I can't even tell you how many door-to-door salespeople we've had trying to sell us vinyl siding!  Replacement just didn't seem necessary, and the control freak in me didn't want to be limited in my color selection when it came time to update the exterior.

This is the house as it looked when we bought it

Since the siding was in decent shape, we felt like a fresh paint job would bring out the features, adding some much-needed curb appeal.

So, we hired a local company that specializes in painting siding.  We discussed general color options, noting the benefits of going with a higher-contrast color combo, like medium-to-dark siding, with a darker color for shutters, and true white for the trim.  I knew I wanted to stay out of the true beige arena, but the brick on our house tended to pull me in that direction until I decided to ignore the brick altogether, and go with what I liked!

Additionally, I think there is a pressure among homeowners in Virginia to stay true to historic colors, which I feel is warranted and appropriate with homes with historic lineage.  Since our home is a loose interpretation of the Colonial style, and decidedly not historic (Helllo 1970s!), I put emphasis on color combos that were appealing, but not necessarily historically accurate.  

We ended up choosing Sherwin Williams colors: Functional Gray (as it turns out, a perfect "greige") for the siding, Peppercorn for the shutters and garage door, and Extra White for the trim.

...and here's how it turned out

I can't get over the change.  I keep driving up wondering if it's my house!  

Now, to be fair, we replaced other features as well.  The most dramatic being the front doors.  We were fortunate enough to start off with an opening for double doors, and I really wanted to let in as much light as possible.  We decided to forgo storm doors, and replaced them instead with custom glass paneled doors from Jeld-Wen.  We stained them a rich mahogany to work with the traditional exterior.

We still felt like there was something lacking architecturally, so we added a crossbeam above the pilasters to bring interest, and act as the canvas for fresh, modern house numbers.  

The last bit of change was to switch out the small, brass-plated sconces with larger lantern fixtures in an iron finish.  Similar to these from Lampsplus.  We put flame-style bulbs in the sconces, which add a nice vibe at night that resembles gas flame.

I never ceased to be amazed by the power of paint! I no longer feel like our house has the blahs, but instead is one of the happiest houses on the block!

Master Bath Transformation - Before and After

It's been a long stretch since I stopped in here for an update, so I figured I'd bring you up to speed on our bathroom redo.  When we moved into our house, I had a long list of "I'd like to change that." Our master bathroom, however, fell more under the S.O.S. category.  Still, I think there's benefit to living with a space, no matter how discouraging, for a while to really get a sense of what works, what doesn't, and why.  About six months ago, we decided to lift the quarantine.

Before I jar you with the "before" images, let's cleanse the palate and see what I envisioned for the renovation.

Now, brace yourselves for the "before"

(image from the MLS listing when we bought the house)

I like to call it:  the Mid 70s Builder-grade special.  With a splash of hospital. 

Original mauve tile, with walls painted to match.  Original vanity, which was curiously squat - even for a short stack like me.  Needless to say, there wasn't anything worth salvaging.

I use the word "master" bath loosely because, although it is ensuite, it is tiny.  Yes, it would be lovely to have dual sinks, but we actually don't overlap too much in terms of use.  We also didn't have much option to expand the space without creating a weird jut into our bedroom, or taking up valuable closet space.  So, the footprint had to stay.

The good news was that having a small footprint meant I could go a little more luxe in terms of finishes.  More than anything, I wanted to brighten it up, and try to expand the space visually.

I believe we accomplished that.

The design plan was pretty straight forward - I wanted marble subway tile to the ceiling in the shower, then to wrap around the other walls at a half-wall height.  The floor tile needed to have a higher grout-to-tile ratio to prevent slipping, so I opted for a small marble herringbone mosaic.  I carried the same tile from the vanity area into the shower to continue the visual line - another trick to make the space seem larger.  We designed a small vertical panel of the mosaic in the facing wall, because, hey, I couldn't get enough of it.  We were able to keep the lines all nice and clean by tucking two shampoo niches into the back wall.   So again, not an inch larger, but it feels

soooo

much more open!

P.S. - Artwork by my daughter and I (yay for freebies!)

I went with brass fixtures to warm up the color scheme, but mixed in polished nickel for the towel bar and tp holder to keep it from feeling too Liberace.

The other major component to visually enlarging the space was to mirror that baby up!  It was tricky, but I had plate mirrors cut for the dimensions of a mirrored medicine cabinet.  It's a nice, layered finish, and bounces tons of light.

The vanity base ended up giving me a bad case of the willies.  I envisioned converting an antique cabinet into a vanity, and searched for something with the

perfect

dimensions (we had no wiggle room), that would still function like a true vanity - to no avail.  Having a custom vanity built was out of budget, so I had to go with a standard vanity base.  Little disclaimer:  Unless you can't tell the difference, I'm not a fan of using Big Box store items for renovations, and I really felt like I was selling out, design-wise to use one, but I held my nose and did it. By topping it with a custom volakas marble top, though, I think I'm at least somewhat redeemed. ;)  It also meant there was room to splurge on the radiant floor heat, which. is. a. game changer.  Toasty toes instead of frozen-stuck-to-the-marble feet is a huge luxury in my boat!

I think it's fair to say the space was completely transformed.  Before, it was painful to see.  Now, it's a  pleasure to use. 

Sources:

Marble Subway Tile

 ~

Marble pencil trim

 ~  

Herringbone mosaic tile

(similar to)  ~  

Shower fixture

 (similar to) ~  

Basin fixture

 (similar to) ~  

Vanity base

(similar to, but think ours was more, and is nicer)  ~  

Vanity top

 ~  

Mirrored Medicine Cabinet 

Powder Room Idea #1001

Just when I think my blogging days are over, the whim hits me to post, and I feel like I wanna share.  It

praaaaably

has something to do with the fact that I've been doing a cleanse this week, the last two days of which were a fast.  Brutal.  But today, I am fla fla flying with inner energy, so here ya go.

The last I stopped in here, we were in demo mode for our kitchen.  Happy to report kitchen is beautifully complete, but there's still things I wanna tweak before she's ready for her close-up.  So, patience, peeps.

We've been trying to tackle other rooms here and there.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned the scoop on the house we bought in our frantic quest for a home Stateside.  In a nutshell:  perfectly livable, but really generic.  Trying to add in character and style from scratch takes time.  And moolah.  Neither of which I have the buckets of I feel I deserve (please read: sarcasm).

For the last few months, I've been going back and forth over wallpaper choices for our tiny powder room.  It's the only bathroom on our main floor, and because of the micro nature of it, it needs a major injection of personality.

We replaced the old sink with a wider pedestal, and in the process discovered the lovely circa '74 floral wallpaper.

I've been all over the map with new paper ideas, but know I want a bold pattern, with a big repeat.  My first thought was to reach back to our Brazilian roots with

tropicali afternoon

- purchasable via

Spoonflower

.

I love this pattern, but here's my hang-ups:  Unless you specifically do a rush order, Spoonflower's shipping time is ridiculous.  Secondly, they price and parcel in single rolls.  It makes it more expensive, and more tedious to hang.

So, I never ordered it, and one day stumbled upon

Enchanment

from

Thibaut

.  A gorgeous Chinoiserie, in a bold color way, and a big repeat.  Perfect.  Ordered.

The only thing left to source is a mirror.  Because of the sconce placement, I need a tall, narrow mirror, but want it to have some shape.  I've been toying with something with beveled edges to bounce the light around (there's no natural light), but spied this black lacquer framed one, and think it might just work.  The dimensions are perfect, but is the outline too strong.  Hashtag: overthinking it.

Oh yeah, we're Keeetchin' ReeenOvaTORS

Well, I have a lot of catching up to do.  With Insta giving the 1000-words-in-a-snap synopsis, it might be redundant to blog, but I'm feeling optimistic.

When we bought this house, we hoped to do quite a bit to bring it up to speed.  It was, for the most part, totally livable, just not the style we would choose.  For example, over the past few months, we've had the basement completely renovated from a dark, cold cave to a warm, usable space.  Hopefully, I'll get around to detailing that, but today is about the KEETCHIN.

To preface:  I have some guilt over redoing this kitchen.  The people we bought the house from apparently prepped the kitchen for selling purposes - painted, and put it new granite.  They put a fairly nice face on what was still a 1970s builder-grade kitchen.

Just a note of opinion, here, while I'm at it:  Why do people renovate only to sell their home?  Why not put in the nice features to enjoy them

while you live there

?  As a buyer, I'd rather you leave the old stuff, and knock a few grand off the asking price, so I can make my own selections when it comes time to remodel. Sans the guilt of feeling wasteful.

So, yes, I feel guilty busting out a kitchen someone else thought was the bee's knees. 

We've lived with it for about six months to really get a feel for what did and didn't work for us in the space.  It's a decent-sized kitchen, but didn't maximize the space. There's the working wall of all the appliances, which left little counter/prep space.  Then, there was the fridge and pantry - pushed into a small walkway outside the main part of the kitchen.

Strange.

The little side bar area (on right in pic) wasn't deep enough for any small appliances, nor were there any outlets.  Basically, nothing more than a catch-all for all for the papers, lunch boxes, etc that traffic through here.

I liked the idea of having an eat-in area, but a round table (staged for selling) ate up a ton of real estate. 

After visiting with our contractor about the feasibility of moving appliances around, I came up with a rudimentary sketch that included plans to replace the double ovens with a single range, move the fridge into the main kitchen area, and add additional counter space with the sink placement under the window.  

The area vacated by the fridge in the passage-way would become a coffee station, with storage underneath for heavy small appliances (cuisinarts, etc), and the pantry would rotate to be accessible from the main kitchen.

We needed the storage the side cabinet provided, but planned it to be more of a standing desk/computer situation.

It'll be a tight fit, but we plan to put in a petite banquette/table along the back wall.

...Cabinet company rendering

I've been inspired by the greige kitchen movement.  I want ours to be classic - with touches of brass, nickel, white and black.  

 Well, you know - in a non-Martha/realistic version.

My working design board...

Some decisions are still in flux, but we're going with a shaker-style cabinet in a warm, mid-tone greige.  I think the color is actually called mushroom.  Or is it stone?  Not sure. 

We're about nine days in, have endured demo, and living with the essentials in a mock-kitchen.  Amazing how complete you can feel with an espresso machine and a hot plate.

And.  There's progress to report. 

So it's a good day to blog.