January 3, 2015

The new house: First FOUR projects!

It's been slightly over four months since we moved into our new house. There is no doubt that we are enjoying the extra space for our family, especially during these winter months when making kids burn energy outside becomes difficult. One of the greatest things about this place is that there was absolutely NOTHING that required work. Everything we wanted to do basically consisted of just cosmetic changes that we thought would help the space feel more like "ours."

So rather than give a tour of a house that we didn't think reflected our tastes at all, we decided to show bits and pieces of it as we get our "before and after" projects finished.

Now, I'm not so naive as to think that everyone is sitting around waiting to see the inside of our house, and we are no rush to complete our projects. We are funding them with money make from things we sell at local consignment stores and rummage sale sites, so it's slow-going. But I do have a dear sister who moved overseas about a week before we moved into this home, so for her and anyone else who is interested, here's what we've accomplished so far!

Project #1: Front door


There was absolutely nothing wrong with this front door, we just didn't care of the green color. It was a little reminiscent of the late 90's/early 2000's color palette and I thought something that matched the neutral tones in the rest of the exterior would be better, and would make decorating the outside for the various seasons and holidays a little easier.


We went with Sherwin Williams "Black Fox" which is a yummy warm neutral brown with gray undertones. It's one of my new favorite colors and we will be using it in a few places inside too. The gray skies and snow definitely don't do the exterior of our home any favors, but hopefully you can get the idea.

Project #2: Kitchen island


The island project kind of came out of nowhere. I was considering painting the island a coordinating color when we painted the kitchen, so was poking around on pinterest for ideas.

Always a good idea, right?

I started running across photos of islands that had been "built out" in board and batten style. Our kids were staying with their grandparents so that I could paint our office (project #3!). Jokingly, I said to Jon, "maybe you could work on this (showing a pinterest photo) while I paint the office." He thought it looked like a great project that wouldn't cost much and headed straight off to Lowes!

He also thought it was a fun opportunity for a little time-lapse photography. ;)

We used mostly 1x6 pieces of MDF cut with custom angles to fit around the sheet rocked island, added a few trim pieces around the base, and painted it with my new favorite "Black Fox" color.

We love the more substantial look of this island and I think the dark color adds some interest. The kitchen and dining space will eventually get a new wall color and new window treatments as well, but those are low on the priority list at the moment.

Project #3: Office 

This "before" picture is really before anything. Everything from our old office was thrown in just enough so that we could get to the computer and that was it! It was a typical "just moved in" disaster, but it's the only photo we had.

Shortly before we moved we had completely re-done our office in our other house. Not only did we absolutely love it, it arguably sold our house. Every.single.person we showed our home to raved about the office. I was praying we could get the furniture to fit in this office the same way, but cutting down one of the Ikea Expedit shelves, but after many google searches, it appeared that wasn't an option.


Instead we decided to use some of our existing furniture and purchase a few new Ikea pieces to make a second workspace.


We added one Ikea Besta base cabinet to the Besta drawer unit we already had and added legs to both. I purchased a large pine board at Lowes and stained it with Minwax Dark Walnut stain to create the second workspace. Then we added three shorter Ikea Besta units above the work space to create some storage. This room has nine-foot ceilings, so there was lots of space to fill.

As much as I wanted to have our piano in the living room, the openness and lack of available wall space left it without a proper home. The office seemed like the next best place, and the bonus is we can close the door so we aren't interrupted when helping the kids with lessons.

There are three big challenges for me when it comes to decorating this house:

1. Carpet. Our other home had beautiful wood floors that went with everything. Thankfully, the carpet in this home is high quality and pretty neutral.

2. Traditional style. I was used to, and loved, the mid-century modern style of our other house. It was very us. The much more traditional style of this home dictates the decor to a certain degree, so we're trying to find ways to incorporate both styles without making things look out of place.

3. The big one - Wood trim. Have you every noticed that 99.9 percent of Pinterest/Houzz/Magazine photos of what's considered "beautiful" homes have WHITE trimwork? Our previous home did, and it seriously goes with every single paint color. Wood trim? Not so much.

There's a pretty high percentage of us that live in certain areas of the Great Plains/Midwest that are dealing with wood trim, and some very beautiful houses that use it. Enough that I think it's a bit of a shame that there aren't more photos of homes that showcase wood trim well to give the rest of us some ideas.

The color we chose for the walls was Sherwin Williams "Naval" (6244). It was a Pottery Barn pick for Fall, coordinated with the neutrals we plan to use in other areas, and I loved the richness of it. I kept my chartreuse accessories from our other home for the pops of color. I'm hoping to recover two chairs with the fabric swatch from West Elm.

We are certainly not claiming to have done it well but I do think the color we chose was an improvement. The previous color didn't do the wood trim any favors, and I think Naval does a better job of contrasting and highlighting the wood.

Project #4: Bedroom/closet wall

The previous owner custom-built this home, and had added built-in nooks for their televisions. Unfortunately, the home was built just before flat-screen TV's became the norm. There are two such "nooks" in the house.

The first is above the fireplace in the living room...

That nook requires some serious decorating creativity. I managed to make it work for Halloween, but it was a challenge! And I don't think I can be that creative every time.

I'm throwing this picture in for my Dad, who absolutely HATES that I decorate with skulls for Halloween ;)

We had planned to remodel the fireplace area by switching out the stone, building out the mantle and removing the "nook" over Christmas break. But we decided we weren't 100% sure how we wanted to do it, and decided that the cost of adding new stone made it too expensive to tackle during the holiday season.

Instead, we decided to remove the one in our bedroom. It jutted into the closet, taking up valuable closet space.

I love how my husband is not afraid to tackle house projects! He does pretty good construction work for a software architect!

 We let the kids help with demo...

It was a fairly painless project, except for the fact that part of what needed to be removed was attached to the wall with a pocket door on it, meaning it was attached from the inside. We definitely didn't want to damage the pocket door, so some special tools were required to remove the screws and wood from that area. 

After that, it was pretty much just patching a giant hole!

This room will be painted as well, but we weren't ready for that project yet so just patched the wall with the paint the previous owners left us.

We actually kept the wiring for a TV, because it really is a great place for one. 

And that's it for now! Four projects in four months. It's definitely starting to feel more like our home now. Project number five is a big one, which is why we've waited to do it. But when it's finished, it will go a LONG way toward making the house feel like us

Project #5: Main living area paint

The reason we've waited is because I'm scared to death of this project. Our main living area extends from our front door all the way through the foyer and living room to the back of the house, up the staircase and all throughout the family room and living area on our second level and down the staircase to the basement. It all flows together and therefore needs to be one color. My typical bold, dark color choices would not be good for this space, so I'm venturing into new territory and doing a lighter neutral, hoping to accent it with the bold colors I love. 

Because of the vastness of the space, the rounded corners, carpeted stairs and high ceilings, we need to hire someone to do part of the work. With any luck, this will be done in January! I'm leaning toward Sherwin Williams Anew Gray. 

So if any of my neutral-paint-expert-friends have any reason why this color should not grace my walls, speak now or forever hold your peace!


  1. I have the same problem from our front door you see all the way from the living room to the dining room and the open staircase and hallways by the bedrooms. I went with a more yellow tint tan than your swatch but I painted my 30' wall to the north a dark green. There is no Windows so it's just a huge blank wall. It looks awesome and really brings color to my house. It also turns the tan a different tint too. I cam show you pics if you want. I hate color matching a making sire your not repainting time and time again to get it right! Good luck!

    1. I'd love to see it! I'm always curious what other people do with problem areas :)

  2. "Now, I'm not so naive as to think that everyone is sitting around waiting to see the inside of our house..."

    Now now, don't be so sure! I have been eagerly awaiting a post with pictures! I admit that I wasn't sitting at the computer checking your blog obsessively or anything. I have been watching for a post, though, and love seeing the space and what you are doing with it. I love the bold colors, too, and my bedroom is painted a slightly lighter shade of dark blue. I chose the color just because I liked it. It was painted while I was at home one summer in college. Since then, I've been diagnose with this lovely (sarcasm!) set of medical issues, one of them being chronic migraines. In December, I had a 15 day migraine. I keep my blinds closed in my bedroom and have a quilt hung over the windows to make it even darker in my bedroom. Combined with the dark blue walls, I always joke that I live in the batcave. :) I do like the gray that you chose. Some gray colors seem so depressing, especially with the winter days here in SD and how dark it can be for months at a time. The gray you posted isn't a dreary gray.