That Time We Repainted the Living Room

Happy New Year!

December was a lazy month for me. I’ve been meaning to write this for weeks and am finally sitting down to do it. I wasted 15 minutes between typing the title and the first line by Googling “ab exercises, best haircut and slow cooker artichoke dip, but I think I’m good now.

When we moved in to the house in September of 2014, the living room looked like this….house.living house.living3

I hated the beige walls (too…muddy? too blah? Plus, does anyone like beige? These people, obviously. And the lady from Calico, who recently suggested maybe we paint our living room beige. Umm). So we added the living room to our to-be-painted list.

I wanted something clean, fresh, airy. Something white. I brought home dozens of white samples (you wouldn’t believe how many whites there are) from Benjamin Moore before they started charging for the 8 x 10 sheets (which I’ve no doubt I had something to do with) and even though several design bloggers (what do they know, anyway) said to stay away from Navajo White (a “dull, boring” white), I went with it.

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Old pic during remodel. Couldn’t find recent.

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The color definitely helped the room. But it still didn’t feel right. Was it airy? Sure. But now it was too airy. And plain (damn those design bloggers!). I realized the problem was that I was fighting with the room. I wanted it to be a Northern California room when it so clearly wanted to be Grosse Pointe. Okay, fine.

In January (we’d painted the room in October ’14), I wanted to repaint while the guys were here doing the kitchen and family room, but my husband wasn’t on board. In November, he all of a sudden wants to get curtains and gives me the go ahead for a repaint as well. Hurray!

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Deciding to go blue seemed the most logical choice. Our dining room was green, our kitchen, a gray-green, our hallway, a gray-tan (not beige!) and upstairs we have different variations of gray. Yellow was too….cheery and other colors like red or orange, too Victorian. I’d actually already selected a gray-blue, back when I thought we might be painting in January.

Of course me being me, I had to go through the process all over again. Back to Benjamin Moore, scouring the internet. I had visions of this….

Blue walls, pink chairs.:

to die for, right?

and this…Blue and Green: I picked up some paint samples, just to see. But painting it a deep blue, even though it would look beautiful and moody, would not really flow with the rest of the house. I tried to justify it in my head by saying that the room could be shut off with the double doors and therefore didn’t have to flow or that it was our house, we could paint it whatever we wanted, couldn’t we? But ultimately my dark blue fantasy room would have to wait.

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But the pink chairs would have looked so great with that deep blue. Sigh.

Another issue was our huge vintage poster. It has a striking blue background, so whatever blue we came up with would need to not clash with it, not match with it perfectly, not have too much green in it, etc. I was beginningĀ  to realize that blue is a tough color to get right. As my mother-in-law stated, “it’s a commitment.”

For a day or two I toyed with the idea of a light blue (the Calico gal suggested that as well, to match the little blue flowers on the couch). And went back to the store for more samples. But a light blue living room made me think of an old lady’s house where you walk into the room and there are individually wrapped caramels sitting in a bowl. Just no.

I was going mental over it and my husband was done hearing about it. One evening, after begging him to deliberate with me once more, he rolled his eyes (okay I can’t say that with 100% certainty, but there is a high probability), threw his hands in the air (maybe) and said “well you love the dining room so much, why don’t you just paint it that color!” This ended the conversation and I was beyond annoyed. I mean beyond.

And yet.

I did love the dining room color. Nantucket Gray. The perfect green. Fresh but not too bright. Welcoming, but somewhat mysterious. My favorite color in the whole house. It would solve the problem of the blue painting and would certainly flow well with the rest of the house. Genius.

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I love it. The room feels much more inviting and looks tied together. I think once we get the curtains up (another harrowing decision oh my gosh! I’m so nervous about it), it will look even better.

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So that’s the story of how the living room got painted green.

The December List is up next. It’s snowing as I write this, but just a light dusting. We’re hoping for more this month (I mean, if it’s going to be cold, I’d rather it snow), but it’s been such a warm winter. Relatively speaking. Happy January!

Grosse Pointe Homes – A Spring Photo Collection

IMG_0689 (1024x1024)I have a fascination with houses. I think a lot of people do. Who lives there? What does it look like inside? What stories happened within those walls? How has it changed over the years? Etcetera.

IMG_0296 (1024x1024)Most of the homes in Grosse Pointe have facades that are sometimes stately, sometimes quaint, sometimes peculiar. Whatever the style, most are also very well cared for, giving them a clean, maybe even weirdly pristine look. It’s very hard to explain. You just have to trust me.

IMG_0457 (1024x1024)Now that the weather is warmer (although still not warm enough – come on!), I’ve been able to go for walks and runs again. When I see a place that, I don’t know…. speaks to me (maybe the sun is hitting it just so, or maybe it’s the way a tree is standing), I take a picture.

IMG_0297The ones that I really like, I alter (not too much) on Instagram. I really try to bring out the home’s personality and what was reflected that day (a house can looks foreboding one day and cheerful the next).

IMG_0490 (1024x1024)I’m still hesitant sometimes to raise my camera (aka phone) to take a shot, especially when there are people around. What if the occupants see me? Will they think I’m casing the place? Hahaha. And don’t think I haven’t gone over in my head what I would say if someone walked out the front door (I love your house! or What kind of plant is that?).

IMG_0620 (1024x1024)And there are many times where I want to take a picture, but don’t, for fear of being noticed (yes, it’s dumb. I realize that).

IMG_0458 (1024x1024)And, as a result, most of my shots are taken so quickly that sometimes they ends up being blurry or not exactly right. Working on this project has definitely helped me (although it is very slow going) overcome my shyness with the camera.

IMG_0595 (1024x1024)I’ve been loving this project so much that I plan to continue doing a seasonal series – Summer, Fall, Winter. And Spring isn’t over yet, so I may have a part II.

IMG_0354 (1024x1024)So far, all the homes I’ve photographed have been within walking distance from my house. I need to hop in the car and drive a couple miles so I can explore the other sections of the Grosse Pointes.

I think a house says a lot about the people inside. What does your house say about you?

The Gallery Wall

Eclectic gallery wall

Image from: myrenovatedlife.blogspot.com

I knew configuring our gallery wall in the living room wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t realize what an insanely huge pain it would be. My Pinterest was filled with grand, eccentric gallery walls (like the ones above and below) and I was excited to get started.

I knew ours couldn’t be as grand, given our space constraints (really the only place that worked was the small space above the piano). Nor could it be as eccentric (my husband doesn’t really do eccentric), but I was determined to make it work.

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Image from: laurelberninteriors.com

Thankfully, designer Anna who came to the house in October (remember the zebra rug dilemma?), had already figured out and given me dimensions. I taped out the 85″ x 40″ space on our dining room floor and began unwrapping artwork (that was still packed up from our San Francisco move last Spring).

We actually have a decent amount of art (much of it was collected by our parents – pieces they picked up from their travels to Japan, China, Germany) and all of it was acquired before my husband and I started dating (hmm, I don’t like that. We’ll need to remedy that soon). It was a challenge trying to decide which pieces went well together without looking too uniform. But it was a fun challenge and I enjoyed figuring it all out.

IMG_9625 (1024x730) So now what? How were we going to transfer them to the wall? (I have to add that the art stayed on the floor like this for about a month! My husband and I both sort of ignored it, not wanting to deal with the next step.)

I’d seen articles touting the ease of cutting out pieces of paper the same dimensions of the art, taping them to the wall, driving a nail in each and voila. Simple, right?

Do this first!

Image from laurelberninteriors.com

Wrong. Cutting the paper to the exact (and we are exact around here) dimensions proved too difficult (I didn’t have thick packaging paper so I tried wrapping paper). The paper kept crinkling and it was hard to trace around the frames. And even if I did get to the point where I traced and cut them perfectly to size, I’d have to arrange them all over again on the wall, which was going to be a headache.

My husband suggested cutting a piece of cardboard (to the display dimensions), arranging the pieces again and tracing around them. This was the hardest part for me. I took pictures of the layout so I could recreate the display, but when I tried to arrange the art on the cardboard, it just wasn’t right. It took SO much tweaking before I was satisfied (I’m talking eighths of inches, but when you’re dealing with something you’re going to see every day, it has to be perfect).

IMG_9939 (600x800)He ended up tracing the art (using a level, to make sure everything was straight) and figuring out where the nail holes should be. Thank goodness he took over at this point, because for sure I would have screwed something up.

IMG_9938 (1024x1022)Then he centered the cardboard over the piano, taped it up and re-marked the nail holes on the wall (through the cardboard). He also put all the artwork up on the wall and leveled each piece.

IMG_9941 (1024x722) Hurray! I really happy with how it turned out. I regret not having the painters re-paint the walls a deep gray-blue (Brewster Gray, I love you!) while they were here doing the kitchen/family room. It would have added a dimension and feel to the room, adding mystery, while also making it more inviting. But it’s still a possibility down the line and the gallery wall definitely helps pull the room together and makes it feel more lived-in.

Kitchen Remodel – Before and After

IMG_9254 (882x1024)We’re in!! The painters were done with the bulk of their work last Friday night and we were given the green light to move in. My husband and I stayed up til the wee hours, assembling our kitchen table and chairs, dusting and doing little things like putting felt on the bottoms of furniture legs. And then we poured ourselves a glass of Cabernet and took it all in.

There are a few outstanding issues (paint drips, a wonky faucet, motion sensor lights not working, waiting on new sofa and leather side chairs delivery, etc.), but otherwise we are D.O.N.E.

Let’s take a look at some before and after shots….

WallIMG_9255 (1024x768)The marble tile around the fireplace was taken down. The old fireplace was covered up and a new gas fireplace was installed, with built-ins flanking the sides (the closed cabinet on the left hides the flue).

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house.family2IMG_9256 (1024x972)The wall between theĀ  family room and kitchen was taken out and the light fixtures were replaced. New hardwood flooring was put down throughout both rooms and stained. New drywall, baseboards and molding. Sliding doors were sanded and painted.

MicrowaveIMG_9258 (768x1024)All appliances were replaced. We kept the location of the fridge (but changed it to a french door style for easier use), but moved the range and oven location. We installed a small microwave on the back cabinet area to keep it out of the way. We removed the swinging door that separated the kitchen from the dining room.

house.kitchen (1024x681)IMG_9252 (1024x976)Peninsula with induction range was removed and an island was put in lengthwise. New everything. Cabinets, appliances, backsplash, molding, baseboard, lighting and paint. Kitchen window was moved eight inches to the right in order to maximize the corner space. Shoe molding was stained to match the floors and installed around the perimeter of the room and the island.

I’ll post more photos once all our furniture comes in and some art goes on the walls. Thanks for following our remodel! Although, now what am I going to write about!? (I’ll find something, don’t you worry).

Kitchen Remodel – Weeks Seven and Eight: Painting, Fireplace and Floors

You guys. I don’t even know what week we’re in on the remodel (okay now I do, I just looked. Week nine!). I’ve been going nuts with Christmas approaching (family arrives in three days!) and have been behind on the blog. I spaced taking photos of some things (like the three different stains we chose from for the floors), but at least I have some documentation of weeks seven and eight.

IMG_9160 (768x1024)The painters started doing their thing at the beginning of week seven, so our access to our new kitchen was short-lived. More sanding (aka more dust) and priming.

IMG_9161 (768x1024)And doors were taken off to be sprayed at the warehouse.

IMG_9065 (784x1024)The fireplace was set up.

IMG_9168 (768x1024)And the floors were sanded…

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Heavy-duty vac.

Heavy-duty vac.

And stained.

IMG_9170 (768x1024)I prefer light wood floors and my husband prefers dark. For some reason, though, I didn’t put my foot down on the floor color. We had dark floors at our flat in San Francisco and they were quite nice. Plus, since the floor had to run through both rooms, I felt a darker stain would warm up the family room section and would be a nice contrast to the white cabinets and backsplash.

We had to move out for a couple days while the floors were being finished, as the fumes from the process are extremely potent. Luckily we have a huge attic fan, which really helped air out the house when we got back.

With the floors complete, all that was left was our final decision on the paint color.

IMG_9190 (1024x768)I won’t even tell you how long I spent just narrowing it down to these five. Most people whose opinion I asked chose Revere Pewter, a neutral gray color (far right). It IS a lovely soft color (duh. I chose it out of thousands). But in the end, I went with my gut, which was Pashmina, a light grey-brown neutral with a hint of green (middle). I felt Revere Pewter was too close to our hallway color, and I wanted this room to feel separate.

Since we’re already in week nine, I can tell you that I’m very happy with my choice (whew!). Pictures soon.

Kitchen Stools

IMG_9078 (1280x1280)We splurged on our stools for the kitchen island and I am in love. I first saw them in Petoskey this summer at the American Spoon restaurant (best Bloody Marys, by the way). The stools are pewter powder-coated steel with a black walnut seat, made by Makr, an American company based in Florida.

I searched online for (you guessed it, HOURS), looking for a similar chair (and they had to be 24″ height in order to work with our island) and found this one for $199.00 at Grandin Road…

Twin Peaks Counter Chair / 24.4 / 199

and these lovelies from Schoolhouse Electric for $295…

Drafting Chair | Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. 295

And several others that of course I didn’t like because once you see the beauty that is the Makr swivel stool you just can’t settle for anything less (budget be damned). I’m so glad we went for it because not only are they nice to look at, they are comfortable and very heavy (girls can’t easily tip over) and the best part is that they were made here in the USA.