Thursday, September 25, 2008

Light & Airy Kitchen Renovation

Contributed by Sherry Petersik of This Young House.

When we first laid eyes on our 50's ranch in Richmond, Virginia, the house charmed us from the moment we stepped inside. That is until we saw the kitchen, which nearly knocked us off of our house-hunting feet thanks to a trifecta of bad design. Dingy, dated, and dark, it was the last room that we'd ever want to come home to. But beyond the creaking cabinets and copious cobwebs we spied a glimmer of potential. Anyone who knows us knows that we love a challenge, so it's no surprise that we made an offer that very evening.


And then we got to work. The decrepit knotty pine cabinets (which were original to the house) didn't even have drawer slides and the archaic pea green microwave was only funny for a minute (then it was just plain scary). In fact, when our new stainless appliances were delivered, the guys who carted away our old ones joked that we should sell them to a 50's set decorator since they were so insanely old (some of them even had cinder block bases to weigh them down).


But new stainless steel appliances were just the beginning. Over the course of 113 days, we survived only on takeout while we gutted and rebuilt our dream kitchen from the ground up. Literally. From the new oak flooring (scored on the cheap from Limber Liquidators) to the crisp white KraftMaid cabinets (and double the counter space thanks to some smart reconfiguring), things were definitely looking up. And the veiny marble-esque granite along with a sleek stainless range hood added some much needed signature style while the brushed nickel knobs and a seeded glass pendant injected a dash of sparkle. The icing on the cake was the moody gray-blue paint color that we chose for the walls (we loved it so much in our master bedroom, we just had to work it into the kitchen as well).

And after the dust cleared we finally got to cook a homemade meal after 4 months of surviving (just barely) on fast food. But as good as our delicious (and well overdue) home meal tasted- it paled in comparison to the taste of victory. Thanks to seeking out deals on eBay (where we scored our fabulous faucet and undermount sink) and doing much of the work ourselves (and getting a third and a forth estimate when we couldn't) we ended up with a kitchen that's as easy on the eyes as it was on our wallet.

Check out the after pictures of the finished kitchen!

For more tasty kitchen details (along with a slew of other before & afters) please visit This Young House.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

French Country Cottage Living Room

Contributed by Pearl Sanborn, who has been sharing her secrets to living better for less at A Story Book Life.

So far, my whole life has been an exciting journey of “re-creating” & “making-do”, so when I was given a brand new blank slate to work with, I almost didn’t know where to begin.


For many years, my husband & I worked at renovating a pretty little 150+ year old Victorian cottage. Then, by way of many blessings, 2 years ago we were able to build a brand new home not even a country mile away. It is tucked deep within the forest, nestled atop a grassy knoll, with a little river only a stone’s throw from the back door.

As it seems to be in many newer style homes, many of our spaces are open and viewable from several vantage points. This makes it a bit harder to plan your initial color scheme, as everything must flow together.

Downstairs we have 9ft ceilings in each room, but our entry is an open area and reaches approx 20ft. Because this area flows into our living room, there needed to be some sort of continuity between the two spaces. With a south facing window spilling sunshine into the entry, we decided to take that hint from nature & make sunshine and warmth our theme.

We applied old world plaster in the entry, and a deeper shade of sunshine for the living room walls. To give the room a pop of color, we covered the wall that would become the focal point in a red vintage style wallpaper from Home Depot.


I made the curtains using $3 per yard Waverly fabric that I found at Walmart. Then, I simply hung them up using some black iron hooks from JoAnn Fabric (the best prices!). (How to make Country French Curtains)

To dress the space, we used pieces that were both vintage and new. We also made sure to use items of the same theme and color family to pull the room together.

As well as being one of our favorite places to sit, the cottage sofa also adds to the overall décor with the beautiful mix of Country French colors, and cozy plush pillows.

One of my favorite pieces in the room is a large black cabinet that we found at a very high end furniture store. But because it was in the discounted area, we were able to pick it up cheaper than discount furniture store prices! I love how the basket of hydrangeas brings in a bit of nature.


A simple scattering of some of my favorite things here and there really dressed out the room and made it finally feel like home. And for the finishing touch… to remind us of how happy we are with our new home, we added a big picture of bears eating, playing music, and dancing at a picnic! I think I smile inside every time I look at it!

Although our relationship with this newer bigger cottage has only been 2 years in the making… we have already grown to love her!

Check out the complete after pictures of the finished living room!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guest Post - Modern Victorian Master Bathroom

Contributed by Mindy Wagner, a Do-It-Yourselfer from Our Fixer Upper

A bad 70's remuddle left much of our Victorian home in dire straits. Our master bathroom was cramped and dark. It had poor task lighting and only two electrical outlets. A moldy shower area and hideous shag carpeting did not help. Because there was little worth saving, we gutted the room right down to the studs and then built it back up using affordable materials.

First, we bumped the back wall out about 4' so it did not feel crowded. This meant we lost a little closet space but it was well worth the trade. To give the room historic charm and make it feel like part of the original house we added 3' high beadboard. We also built complex trim for the baseboards, windows and chair rail using standard lumber yard offerings. 3.5" tall crown molding finished the look and gave the room a sophisticated feel.

The green wall paint (Sweet Annie from American Traditions, found at Lowes) looks crisp and clean against the clean ivory trim. We were happy to say goodbye to the shag carpet, replacing it with Octagon and dot tiles and two green throw rugs to keep our feet cozy. We chose a charcoal gray grout for easier cleaning and less worries about staining. A $25 thrift store dresser was repainted using old-fashioned milk paint; a hole was cut in the top using a jigsaw to run the sink plumbing. After painting, the dresser was given two coats of Cabot spar varnish to protect it from water damage. The vessel sink and American Standard wall mount faucet give the room a modern touch.

To complete the Victorian theme, we had a clawfoot tub refinished by a local company and installed a chrome shower enclosure and tub filler from Vintage Tub and Bath.

Check out the complete after pictures of the finished bathroom!

Visit Our Fixer Upper for more details on the master bathroom project.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Guest Post - Den Makeover

Contributed by interior decorating consultant and entrepreneur, Linda Merrill of Chameleon Interiors.

This tiny room was part of a larger decorating project. My client was a busy single woman. This room had become nothing more than a large storage closet and was a sad waste of space.


She wanted a space that was fresh and inviting, yet still classic and appropriate for a coastal New England home. The room itself was small - 10' x 12' - and needed to feel cozy without being claustrophobic.

To create an airy feel, we decided to go with a soft monochromatic look of cream walls (Benjamin Moore's Philadelphia Cream, HC-30) and cream linen sheers (Pottery Barn Linen Sheer drapery panels in Ivory) and a cream/beige patterned area rug. These sheers come with a 10" deep hem. We chose to hang the panels upside down with the 10" hem folded over to create a valance effect. We simply purchased one size longer than needed so that we ended up with the right length. The panels were hung using clip rings onto wrought iron rods with a basket finial.

The area rug was actually a piece of broadloom that I had cut to the very specific size needs of this room. Going with a custom cut broadloom carpet works very well in spaces that require specific non-traditional sizes.

Once the shell of the space was taken care of, we had the furniture to deal with. This room was to be used as a tv/sitting room and given the shape and size, a small sectional sofa made the most sense. We selected Pottery Barn's PB Basic Small Sectional in Cardinal Red brushed twill. The color really popped against the soft creams, adding a vibrant warmth to the room. The size of the sectional was perfect and fit in snugly.

My client had several pets. While the room was intended to be off limits to all the animals, it didn't mean they didn't show up in spirit. On the wall was an oil painting of the two dogs. After a lot of searching, I found the perfect fabric to make a couple of custom dog pillows. We loved the "ancestral portrait" feeling of this fabric and thought it added a humorous and personal touch. The fabric was from Kravet, which is now discontinued. The other custom made box pillows were done up in a Kravet woven stripe called Bohemian in deep greens, reds and gold, which tied the pillows to the dog portrait.


The rest of the furniture in the room was small antique pieces that my client already owned. The small scale and rustic feel of these pieces worked perfectly. The table and floor lamps were black wrought iron "Twist Basket" from Hubbardton Forge.

While this is a fairly simple space - it was the attention to the details - the repeating basket weave motif in the hardware, well coordinated colors and personalized touches - that brought the whole thing together and made for the perfect, comfy space to relax in.

Check out the after pictures of the finished room

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