September 17, 2015

Progress at Our Place!

The past two-and-a-half weeks have been busy at our house.  We began by demo’ing the kitchen and removing tile floors in our foyer and shiny pre-finished oak floors with a Brazilian cherry border in the kitchen.  We had our stair railing removed (a new simpler one will take its place) and pulled off trim throughout the house.  The doorway from the living room to the future office is being closed up…

{the living room…  we plan on putting our TV in here and using it as more of a family room.}

…and we moved our powder room out of the kitchen by pushing it into the dining room.  It’s now accessible through a three-foot square walkway into the dining room from the kitchen.  In the photo below, it’s now behind the wall on the left and is accessible through the left side once you pass through the central doorway:

{The center of the room and chandelier are now visible from the kitchen, making a prettier view}

We centered the door into the dining room to create a symmetrical, more pleasing view into the kitchen from the dining room and vice versa (it’s already made SUCH a difference!!) and because it allowed us to fit a longer stretch of cabinetry on the other side of the door from the kitchen side. (yay for more countertop space!)  Of  COURSE that wall was filled with goodies- plumbing, central Vac and more…  so moving the bathroom and the door opening has been seriously labor-intensive.

{The view in the dining room… A built-in will fit into the niche on the left so it will be in line with the wall on the right.  I’m thinking wine.}

While all of this was happening, the guys from CarrMichael discovered that the weight of the 80s marble master bathroom upstairs had caused the floor joists on the floors below to crack (eek!) and all of the weight of that part of the house was resting on a tiny copper pipe in the ceiling of the basement.  We’re so fortunate that they caught it or we would have been in serious trouble one day!!  They fixed it yesterday and we’ should be good to go now.

{fun talks about falling houses}

New red oak flooring is being toothed in with our existing red oak flooring in the kitchen and the foyer.

Upstairs, we’re in the process of opening up the wall between the hallway and a large room we have up there.  (It was originally the master bedroom but the closet was removed when the new master and master bath was added on. )

We’re turning it into a family hang out space/library/family room similar to the loft in our last house.  We’re lining the walls in bookshelves which I cannot wait for!!  I always feel like a house becomes our house when we finally unpack the books.  The room is fairly dark, and opening it up will bring more of the sunlight from the hall into the space.  The glass sliding doors open onto a deck which is, sadly, crazy unsafe.  The proper wood wasn’t used and it feels like it’s about to literally snap under your feet.  The entire rail could bust off with a good kick (or lean) so… we’re taking it off and will switch it out with a teensy balcony instead that will let more light into the kitchen (woohoo!!!!) and be way easier/less costly & time-consuming to repair.  (To get a balcony of the same size in, we’d need to remove the entire ceiling in that area of the kitchen and I’m just not up for that.)

HVAC is being added to the attic and drywall and floors will go in soon to create a fully finished space.  I’m hoping to turn it into a sort of project space where the kids can do art, I can keep my drawing and textiles stuff up there and that kind of thing.  It can also double as guest space when we have a full house.  I’m leaving it mostly alone decorating-wise for now, but do want to eventually add skylights, but was thinking how fun it could be to leave it like one of those old attics we used to play in as kids…  kind of like the Goonies attic…  

{Finding Chester Copperpot’s map in the Goonies attic} 

I could keep the Halloween things up there and some of my creepier art (I’ve got a lot of that 😉 and the kids could just kind of explore and do their thing.  We’ll see.

And finally, we’re making progress on THE FLOORS!!!  The flooring situation has been a a series of decisions that didn’t come easily for me.   When I initially saw the house, I wanted wide plank oak or heart of pine floors (below- what would have been in an original Cape Cod) but couldn’t justify wasting the perfectly good 3-4″ oak flooring and the expense of new floors throughout the entire house.

{image of an authentic Cape Cod via Sunderland Period Homes}

I did know that I wanted the flooring on the main level to all be of one material because I felt like the slate tile in the foyer (which I actually liked) chopped up the spaces too much and created boundaries where I didn’t want them.  And then in the kitchen, the floor transition was a bit jarring due to the contrast in materials and the kitchen being slightly elevated above the family room due to layers of tile, subfloor and wood floor, so I knew I wanted to continue the wood flooring in there as well.

Next came the question of what finish to go with.  It’s definitely possible to try to get the new flooring and the old flooring to almost match when refinished and stained together, but I had a couple of issues with that for our place: I don’t like red oak takes stain as much as I love white oak,  and I wanted our house to feel a bit different; I want it to feel fresh yet old.  While most original Cape Cods have stained wide plank heart of pine floors, some of them have been painted over the years and so I started looking into painted floors.  I’ve been dying to try white painted floors for a while now -I loooove the look- and figured we could be the guinea pigs.  As I was researching different brands and applications I came across Farrow & Ball’s “floor paint” which seemed like the ideal product.  It looked like it had a sheen, but wasn’t as shiny as many of the “porch paints” out there, is a no-VOC PAINT, and is specially formulated to stand up to the abuse that floors take.  The timing was crazy because Farrow & Ball had just contacted me about doing the #myfabmoodboard giveaway (Congrats to Stacey of Steward of Design on winning the 5 gallons!!) and so I asked them if they’d be interested in a paint-post exchange and was thrilled when they said yes!!  They just needed the color.

And here’s where I basically stopped being a professional decorator and turned into an over analyzing, indecisive, hesitant decision-maker.  The back of the house (kitchen/ family room/ office) is darker than I’d like it to be so I wanted to brighten it up as much as possible.  I originally wanted white floors but they show EVERYthing.  I’ve had painted white stairs before in previous homes and they were tough when they were bare (when we added a runner, they were great)  so the thought of white floors and the maintenance worried me.  I thought about the house and its style, and then my ideal palette for the house {whites, ivories, black, warm woods, greens, golds) and decided that I could mix in some gray and it would add depth and warmth.  So I selected a gorgeous deep gray paint called “Plummet.”

{Farrow & Ball’s Plummet is on the left.}

I was nervous because of how dark it was but knew it would be beautiful and went for it.  When the paint arrived and went down in our upper hall and random room upstairs, I couldn’t stop staring at it whenever I rushed through the hall.  It was beautiful.  They only did such a small portion of the house because we had a delay in the wood for the lower level, so as we waited to more forward downstairs, I kept staring at the gray.  My husband loved it.

{our upper hall}

And it was really pretty, did lighten up the space a bit, and seemed to hide our dirt, but it just wasn’t sitting right with me.   When I finally had a minute to stop and stare and think on Sunday morning, I felt a bit sick.  It didn’t feel like “me.”   I realized somewhere along the way I’d lost my vision.

So I literally forced myself to take a step back and follow the procedure I normally take for clients.  It always seems to happen intuitively, but went really out of whack for me this time, mainly because I had started designing around the house itself, without taking the clients’ style (mine!) into account and let my fear of the maintenance on the white floors sway me.  I had to basically “shake it off” and go back to the beginning and look at my house – and my style-  with fresh eyes.  So I did and went right back to where I started.  White.

{loooove.  via Elle Decor}

I dreaded pushing back our move and telling Dave and Farrow & Ball that I’d messed up.  (lol and now all of you!! 😉  Josias, our floor refinisher/ installer of Custom Crafted Floors (phone: 443.469.7210) has been incredibly patient and kind about it all.  (I love them for laughing instead of being angry.  We did pay for their services & I’m mentioning them because they’re awesome.)  And of course I worry about the maintenance, but I decided that- for me- having to sweep or wipe the floors more was a fine price to pay for having the house feel right to me.  I realized that, in my own personal home, the overall feeling is a higher priority for me than the maintenance.  And I say “feeling” rather than the “look” because the gray look was gorgeous, it just didn’t have the right vibe/feeling.  But even I have a maintenance threshold, and I decided on an off-white (Aptly called “Off-white”) with a lot of beige in it that will hide a fair share of dinge but also work out well for obscuring our white dog’s fur.  


{Here we go again!!!}

When compared to a piece of paper, it looks sort of oatmeal/beige, but when applied to the floors in such a large expanse and blended with other whites and ivories, it will feel like a warm white.

I’m feeling good about knowing what the dirt situation really is in our house.  I love white slipcovers for that reason and it’s the same basic concept: see your dirt so you’re forced to keep it clean.  (But I’ll let you know how much I love it on rainy days. 😉  We’re usually barefoot at home, but we’re going to have to make sure the kids are really in the habit of taking off their shoes when they come in…  They usually sort of take them off and toss as they come running in. (And in case any friends or family are reading- no you don’t have to take off your shoes unless you want to!! 😉

{there’s a greenish hue to this pic}

Anyway, a small sample of Farrow & Ball’s “Off-white” went down and I’m IN LOVE.  This whole situation was a good reminder for me to trust my instincts and to not let fear creep in on any of my design decisions.  Practicality is ALWAYS a consideration, but we all have our own middle ground where what we want and what’s functional can co-exist without making too many sacrifices.  Going with an off-white got me there:  yes, I’ll have to wipe my floors when we track dirt in (but I probably should have been doing that anyway??) but I’m getting a house that will feel like “me” to me.

The floors are being painted today and tomorrow and we’re (if all goes well) moving our furniture in this weekend!! I CANNOT WAIT!!  (As much as I love sleeping with the mattresses on the floor and eating outside, it’s going to be so great to have a kitchen table and chairs!!)  I’ll keep you posted!

{Lou seems okay with his non-bed situation so far}

On a sidenote…  my book arrived in a package this morning as I’ve been writing this post.  I haven’t opened it yet and have crazy butterflies.  Eeeeeeek I can’t believe this day is here.


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