It was the windows of this home that first stole my heart – casement style with a crank handle that go beyond stylish; they’re downright romantic.
Maybe it stands to reason then that the first ‘decorated’ space in this home would be one of these lovely windows. While unpacked boxes were everywhere, and we could barely move around the misplaced furniture, I found a pair of drapes and immediately installed them in the keeping room. It did not escape my notice that there were no kitchen cabinets, stove, kitchen sink, or master shower at the time, but we had one beautiful window – then another, and another, and another. . .
The renovation of our new home is minor, relatively speaking. It was only the kitchen and master bath that would be demolished, while a downstairs powder room and the upstairs guest bath got new fixtures and paint.
Then I decided it would be a shame to go this far and not replace the dated floor in the guest bath, which destroyed the pink cove tile along the bottom, and exposed the rotten sub-flooring around the toilet thanks to a previous leak.
After the vanity was removed in the downstairs bath we were left with less than a complete floor of tile, and when the remaining tile began to crumble we knew it too was a lost cause. And because these things are literally happening by the hour, decisions must be made straightaway, or work stops altogether.
Left to his own devices, my husband would duplicate everything from some previous home. Same colors, countertops, cabinetry, flooring – ditto finito! As you may have gathered, I embrace change.
For several weeks my focus has been on color. For me, a home’s color palette is one of the first decisions to be made before the rest of the design can fall into place. To that end, I’ve brought home one of nearly every color card available at Lowe’s. Some of them have been turned into a sample of real paint, which I have painted onto a section of wall in almost every room. Finally, after days of exhaustive frustration, I heard what color this house wants to become: neutral. It seems the color for this house should come from everywhere except the walls.
Our last home had 2 exterior colors, which were also used in 3 interior rooms, along with 8 more colors throughout the rest of the house. In an unprecedented move, our forever home will consist of just 3 interior colors, and one new exterior color on the front doors. Our contractor is counting his blessings at this very moment.
I found beautiful draperies for the dining room and left them draped across the dining room table for more than a week hoping they would inspire this home’s color palette. They did not.
Meanwhile, dozens of color cards were collected and swaths of paint dotted the walls. The color for the front doors came about relatively easy, but to this day they look just like this. . .
The plan was to finish the 1st floor powder room so there was one working bath during construction. Sadly, there’s no ‘before’ and by the time we had snapped a photo, this little bath had bourne the wrath of my color quandary.
Three of the workers warned me those dark colors would make this little room feel even smaller. . . they didn’t realize I had exotic bathroom images swirling in my head.
In progress . . .
The upstairs guest bath carries a similar tale with it’s irreplaceable pink tile (there’s actually a movement to savethepinkbathrooms). I’ve spent hours researching how to design around the pink – mostly because the bathtub was in good shape and I didn’t want to replace it. When I stumbled onto this photo, I knew there was hope for my pink bathroom.
Another photo we sadly missed the opportunity to capture was the original 1970s guest bath vanity and medicine cabinet, and now they’re long gone. A new vanity is on order, and will fit perfectly if we all hold our breath (there’s only a 1/2″ to spare).
Next week the floors will be covered in Carrerra Marble, the walls will become pure white, and somehow I’ll mix in a little of that beautiful green – maybe on the ceiling.
By the time we reached the Master Bath design, a common theme had begun to emerge: not an inch to spare. This bath has been designed, and re-designed with every inch accounted for. I couldn’t imagine the design for this room until the layout was correct, so now the fun work begins here.
This process has reminded me that houses, like people, show their personality in different ways. Some people are outgoing, verbose and lively while others may be quiet showing their spirit through tattoos, hobbies, knowledge, or clothes.
My last home was fairly monochromatic in its furnishings while the walls spoke volumes. This home speaks differently, quietly . . . albeit no less beautiful.
The listing read, “Beautiful, first time on the market, quality constructed french provincial home with awesome curb appeal.”
‘Provincial’ means a person who lives in or comes from a place that is far away from large cities. How appropo.
The French Provincial style tends to be simple, square, and symmetrical – resembling small manor homes. My husband wanted grand, but within a modestly small footprint. I wanted romantic, elegant. We have found the perfect home. . . except that no home is completely perfect until it has been sufficiently renovated.
This French Provincial includes nine elegant rooms with floor to ceiling windows on the first floor, dormers with window seats in each of the upstairs rooms, and original hardwood floors.
There’s also popcorn ceilings, lime green carpet, a 44-year old kitchen, and 44-year old baths.
Our belongings have been stuffed into the garage and scattered here and there while we re-organize a bit. . .
We think the front door needs some color (??). Valspar’s Rogue Blue and Pitch Cobalt blend well with the slate of the front porch. A test-size container of both colors is in our future.
The Entry Foyer: there’s a fabulous broom closet behind the door that only needs an electrical outlet for charging the vacuum battery to render it perfect. A coat closet to the right of the front door will be demolished to make room for our oversized armoire – something a French home should never be without.
When I read that most French homes include an armoire in their design (originally due to the lack of good closet space), I knew this part of the design was in the bag.
When working with large pieces of furniture, of course, every good designer knows the height of the ceilings they’re working with (our ceilings are just 8 feet).
Oh well. It’s a tight fit, but it does fit.
This living room is fabulous with its floor to ceiling windows and large doors that lead to a slate covered patio. Looking through the doorway to the left you can see the coat closet we’ll demo to create an alcove for the armoire. The doorway to the far right leads to the dining room. . .
You’ll hardly recognize this kitchen in a few weeks. . .
Some things become a “jumping off point” for the design, and this was one of those things – our refrigerator of choice is already on order.
(Heartland Refrigerator in Cobalt.)
This room is adjacent to the kitchen, and is the room under the most debate. My husband wants to rip out the paneling, I want it to stay. I think it will look fabulous with a good cleaning, maybe paint the bookshelves, or do away with them altogether, replace the light fixture, and possibly beef up the crown molding. With the right furniture and drapes, it could be a show stopper. (The door to the right leads to the attached garage – something that’s been missing from our homes for years!)
Ideally, we’ll find the perfect runner for the stairway. . . maybe charcoal grey or black.
The Master Suite with its green carpet, window seats, and original light fixture. I had been in the house several times before I realized the slant of the mansard roof creates a significant decorating opportunity.
The Master Bath will be re-worked while this adjacent bedroom becomes the master closet.
Two more bedrooms, a mauve guest bath, and a generously sized bonus room over the garage all await our magic wand. . .