I know, I know. Long time, no see, eh? As you guys may know from talking to me in person or have deduced from my absence from this here blog for most of this year, I’ve taken some time to reevaluate where my tiny little corner of the internet is headed. Truth is, letting go of regular blogging has been really, really good for helping me to achieve a more healthy work/life balance this year, so when I woke up one morning this week actually WANTING to blog, I knew that my resistance had paid off. The spark is back! Now, I’m definitely not making any promises about what the future holds for my posts, but after talking to lots of friends who have been wanting to see more of what’s been going on in our lives in 2014, I decided it was AT LEAST high time for a recap of our home renovations over the last 10 months or so.
When I first posted the “before” photos of our home, taken on the day we got the keys last December, I had intended to post and update a lot more frequently, with in-depth tutorials and descriptions and what have you. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans. It turns out that my creative process (particularly when it comes to renovating and decorating) looks something like this: 1. Get idea. 2. Stop at nothing until it is completed. 3. Enjoy the finished product for approximately 5 minutes. 4. Move on to next idea.
Which leaves little room for photographing and sharing the experience, since I’m usually itching to spend my time on the next task at hand. :)
So for those of you who would like more insight and details and behind the scenes shots of the process of all this, you should definitely follow me on Instagram. And more specifically, follow the hashtag #trinkerhomerenovation. So much more awaits you there! ;)
But for now, you’ve got a beast of a post to read below, so let’s get right to it!
Below, I’m covering the transformation of our living room, front bedroom (which we use as an office), hallway, kitchen, and laundry room. Our master bedroom is a work in progress, and the bathroom and guest room are still a complete disaster, so you’ll just have to wait on those. (Don’t even get me started on the basement…) But the beauty of all this, at least for me, is that this entire house will forever be a work in progress. Or at least it will be as long as we live here. :) I really do enjoy the process… the (sometimes tough) manual labor, the satisfaction of a good before and after, the smell of a freshly painted room…
But I digress.
Let’s start with the living room, shall we?
I’m including the listing photos in addition to the before photos I took, because I think that sometimes a properly-exposed professional photo can disguise the flaws of a space. In these, I feel like the listing photos more accurately reflect how dark and enclosed the room felt when we first saw it. Despite the abundance of windows and size of the room (HUGE by 1925 and Crestwood North standards!), it just felt… really, really dark. I think part of it had to do with the previous owners’ style, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with it. I know that some people love spaces that feel very cozy and cabin-like, but that’s just not my thing. I prefer light, bright, and colorful. (Unless, of course, I’m vacationing in Vermont. Then of course I require a cozy cabin-like atmosphere. ;)) So the dark wood beams? They just weren’t doing it for me.
So yes, the first thing I did was buy a TON of Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace and go to town on this room. I heard an imaginary collective gasp as I brushed that first stroke over that first beam, but I haven’t looked back since. I think you’ll understand why….
Oh yeah! AND! I learned how to use a power saw this year! What?! Our friend Will (who is so handy he built his last house WITH HIS BARE HANDS) came over and showed me the basics and then sent me on my merry way. I’d been envisioning this wall of built-in bookshelves from day one, and with his help, they came to life. (I love the bottle of Advil sitting prominently amidst all of the chaos. Living through a renovation, am I right?!)
Ohhhh yeah. That’s the stuff. White walls + tons of cool windows + an abundance of architectural detail + pops of color everywhere = happy Morgan.
Those of you who saw my guest post on our realtor Tyler’s blog may be wondering what happened to Dolly and the green chandelier. Well, as with most slapped together and inexpensive DIY projects I do, I have a lot of fun with them but quickly get bored with them. :) Both were wonderful (and super cheap– practically free!) temporary elements in the space, but I soon began to realize that a room like this calls for fixtures and artwork of a bit higher quality. Enter this Erin Gregory piece I bought from One King’s Lane and the West Elm mobile chandelier (which to me is a much more proportionate size to the rest of the room), and I feel like a super chic adult. Well, sort of. I still occasionally buy my clothes in the kids section, after all. ;) I love how the colors in the artwork tie in the couch with the forest-y green of the hallway to the left and the blush pink of the laundry room to the right (both of which we’re getting to!). This is most definitely my tried and true palette!
Some of you may remember that metal army-green end table I made for the guest room in our last house. I love how it ties in with the greens and golds of the fireplace while introducing a more modern, industrial vibe. Again, those of you who read the post I wrote for Tyler or who have followed any of my other decorating journeys know that I love a mix of traditional (specifically Southern and farmhouse) elements with more modern (specifically mid-century modern) ones. It’s that mix of old and new, high and low, neutral and bold, that really make a space sing, in my opinion.
Oh, and those 3 lovely ladies are from another fave artist, Janet Hill.
Recently, in another fit of feeling unsettled and needing to do something about it, I color-coded our bookshelves, but I haven’t quite decided if I *love* them this way. Thoughts? At first I felt like it looked more organized and calming to the eye, but now I feel like it might be a bit too rainbow-y. Hmm. I’m sure it will have changed next time you see it. ;)
You may also have noticed that I once had a gallery wall on the big blank wall to the left of the dining table, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it too was not quite right, so I moved some of the pieces to the hallway (those photos are coming!). I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with the blank space now, but I know it needs to be pretty simple and easy on the eyes. I’m thinking maybe a few large-scale framed black and white family photos? We really need to display more photographs anyway…. especially since I’m a photographer, for Pete’s sake. ha.
That photo above is one of my faves. I love how all the separate rooms peek through and you can see all the colors and patterns playing nicely together. Can you believe that all these doorways had doors on them when we first moved in?! Now I can’t possibly imagine them not being open and free. With these old houses, you gotta do everything you can to maximize openness and flow from space to space, without necessarily resorting to knocking down all the walls a la The “Open Concept” Property Brothers.
The light this house gets is just bar none. That was a number one requirement in choosing a house and we couldn’t have had better luck with this one. The sun rises on the side of the house where the bedrooms and back windows to the kitchen are, so the “morning rooms” get delicious and happy and energizing morning light. But then the living room gets a full view of the sunset every day, and the golden hour seriously lights this place up around 5:00 pm. There are few happier places on earth as far as I’m concerned (sorry, Disney). I love calling it quits and leaving my office (which is two steps away) to read a book or catch up on Netflix for an hour or so while this beauty surrounds me.
Now, onto the office!
SO much brown and taupe EVERYWHERE when we moved in. Again, I totally get that there are people who are passionate about the whole spectrum of brown, but I am just not one of those people. A touch of camel leather? Gorgeous. Wood floors? Beautiful. Taupey-brown walls accented by a fleur de lis wallpaper border? No thank you. This room was also begging for a white out!
Now THIS is a space I don’t mind working in every day. All that natural light, when combined with the inspiring colors and pieces that are all around me, when also combined with a primo view of our TV so that I might binge watch Community while I work, makes for a most excellent work environment, indeed.
p.s. That little bride and groom up there? Totally our wedding cake topper. :)
And now… the hallway! Here seems like a good place to talk about lessons I’ve learned with putting colors on the walls. In previous homes of ours, I’ve gone crazy with the mints and lime greens and turquoises in very large rooms, which turned out to not have quite the effect I was hoping for. Style gurus like Emily Henderson taught me the power of a crisp white backdrop for color lovers, since, as she says, we’re more likely to buy and collect furniture and objects that have a lot of color and we need that neutrality to keep it from looking like Rainbow Brite’s house. I’ve found, though, at least in this house, that color and pattern on the walls can definitely still be a very good thing, just in smaller doses. That’s why I opted to paint the hallway this delicious shade of green (with a white Sharpie pen pattern on top thanks to the brilliant Mandi of Vintage Revivals). Bonus? The newly arranged gallery wall somehow pops even more against the bold color. And I love how it calls back to the color of the fireplace subway tiles. I love modernizing the more charming aspects of a 90-year-old home like this without changing its DNA.
And now we have arrived at my proudest accomplishment to date: THE KITCHEN.
These befores, y’all. I mean. We’re talking raw plywood cabinets accented by hunter green laminate counters accented by lime green walls (which was apparently a recent decision since the online photos showed butter yellow walls– go figure). On top of that, there was a massive spaceship of a ceiling fan, enormous stainless steel appliances (which I totally get are a great thing to some!), and, well…. it all just needed a little lovin’. The good news is, I saw the potential in this room the first time we toured the house, simply because it got amazing light and had the original pine floors and felt so impossibly cozy and inviting.
My vision for this kitchen was a colorful, happy retro farmhouse-y vibe, and I think we achieved just that!
A lot– and I do mean a LOT– of time and labor went into transforming this space, so it’s hard to decide where to begin without leaving anything out. I guess the first thing we did was have the doorway leading to the 3rd bedroom closed off. (That’s where the chalkboard wall is below.) It was a secondary entrance to that room which really did nothing but cause problems for the flow of both rooms. So we had our contractor Ricky and his crew go ahead and close it off when we closed off the doors in the living room and master bedroom. (p.s. Those guys are amazing– let me know if you want his number! Super affordable and quality work!)
A few months later, after the dust had settled from the work I did in the other rooms, we REALLY hit the ground running. Will saved the day again and helped Jamie and I demo out most of the upper cabinets (saving some for reuse in the laundry room) and cut and install these beautiful butcher block countertops from Southeastern Salvage. I then painted alllll of the cabinets, as well as the insides of the cabinets because my OCD is unstoppable and I wanted the insides to be as pretty and organized as the outsides. Yep, it took forever. And a day. I replaced all the hardware, and then we installed our appliances, which are the AMAZING GE Artistry Series. I had been eyeing the Big Chill retro appliances for a long time, but knew we probably wouldn’t be able to afford them anytime in the near future. So when I was at Home Depot one day with my friend Kelly and spotted these from far away, I pretty much completely freaked out. Like, in hindsight, it was a borderline embarrassing scene. I love that these are crazy affordable but also have that clean vintage style I’ve been craving. I couldn’t be happier that white appliances are beginning to make a comeback! To me, they’re so much easier to keep clean and they keep everything light and bright and airy.
Then we hired Ricky and his crew to install the subway tile. Originally, I had planned to DIY this too, but in the end I began running out of time and realized it was just going to involve way too much labor on my part (as well as a whole new set of skills which I certainly do not possess), and I’m so happy I bit the bullet and delegated it. They did a great job and saved me from a whole lot of meltdowns. :) I also originally wanted to take the tile all the way up to the ceiling, but it was going to end up costing a fortune and be kind of a pain with all the weird old-house angles and textures. Thankfully, I think I actually like it better only going partially up. I think it could have easily gotten too busy, not to mention created complications when it came time to install all the open shelving.
Speaking of, after all the walls, trim, ceiling, and doors got a fresh coat of paint, I put in some open shelves to replace the upper cabinetry. I wanted some of my favorite vintage dishes to be on display, and I felt like it would create so much more brightness. There’s a lot of hemming and hawing over the pros and cons of open shelving since it’s trending so much right now, but for us, it’s been perfect. We still have plenty of closed cabinetry to hide our less-than-attractive Tupperware containers and we can keep some of our everyday dishes out in the open for easy access. Win-win!
Oh, and the microwave? Total fluke. As you can see in the before photos, we originally had a combination microwave/range hood that just felt cramped. We installed a real dedicated range hood (woo!), and when it came time to find a replacement microwave, I had trouble finding a white one that fit into that weird little nook in the corner. Just so happened to pick this one up at Target, and it fit with about 3 millimeters to spare. Whew! And because it was such a tight fit, there’s the added bonus of it looking built-in AND freeing up valuable counter space for more important tasks like coffee making. ;)
The colors in this kitchen make me so happy. So glad I went with my gut and did the mint green cabinets and the citron yellow back door. I don’t know if these decisions will help or hurt us when it comes time to sell the house, but honestly I couldn’t care less. This is my dream kitchen, and even if I’m the only one who loves it for the foreseeable years to come, that’s okay.
The massive Boulangerie sign is definitely one of the stars of the show, though. I found it on Craigslist as I was perusing the antiques one day, and I couldn’t type an email to the owner quickly enough. It was a steal, and now I can’t imagine the room without it. It adds so much character and coziness to the room (and was totally worth having to crawl around in the attic to locate the beam to hang it from).
We also swapped out the stainless sink, which, despite repeated scrubbings, never really looked clean, for this beeeeautiful white cast iron sink and modern faucet. We had one of these in our last house and I became very spoiled by how easily it cleaned up and how pretty it looks. I briefly considered a farmhouse sink, but it would’ve ended up being a lot more complicated to install with our older cabinetry, and I actually kind of love the detailing of those three lines on that false drawer front right below the sink. So it was definitely okay!
And this is my little Knoxville art collection! :) The Ball jar piece was done by my FAVORITE artist Beth Meadows, who is based in Knoxville and sells her pieces at Nostalgia on McCalla for those interested. The vintage Knoxville postcard was actually mailed to us by my brother’s girlfriend Joy and I’m obsessed with it. And the piece on the far right is a cross-stitch that was made for us by one of our oldest family friends, Michele, as a wedding gift. The turquoise car played a prominent role in our day. :)
And last but certainly not least, the laundry room! Which, when we moved in, looked like this:
HAPPIEST ROOM IN THE HOUSE.
The strawberry walls are by far one of my favorite projects to date, and have gotten probably the best reactions from guests. We knocked them out one weekend when my parents came to visit, and my mom and I made strawberry-shaped stamps (tutorial can be found on A Beautiful Mess) and lovingly hand-stamped every single one you see here. SO worth it. I’ve never considered myself a lover of pink, but this shade of blush as the backdrop for the bright red strawberries just felt so right. It’s so pale that it’s practically a neutral…. or at least I treated it as such when I brought in all the colorful art and accessories. ;)
We removed the flimsy wire shelf and installed some of the upper cabinetry from the kitchen (yay repurposing!). The cabinets fit perfectly, with just enough space to add a few open shelves, and not only do they create so much additional functional storage, but they also really help this space feel more like a room– not just a forgotten scary closet with all the laundry and cleaning supplies you don’t want anyone to see. That was one of my main goals for this area, since you can see it as soon as you walk in the front door and it’s one of two ways to get into the kitchen. It’s my firm belief that even normally-overlooked laundry rooms can be fun and inspiring. :)
As you can see in the photo above, there are a LOT of different colors going on in our house. But it can be done successfully! I think the keys are to temper the bright colors with lots of white (or grey, or– if you’re a brown lover– tan), and to create one overall palette for the entire house and choose colors and accessories that generally fall within that palette. Use a color or inspiration board or photo as your jumping off point. I’ve done it plenty of times to help me visualize whether colors are going to work well together. But some of it is just a gut feeling and personal preference, so at the end of the day… do what makes you happy. Design and paint and renovate with your own needs and wants in mind. This is where you’ll spend so much of your time, and it should be a place that makes you feel good. *all the cheesy feels*
So I guess that’s where I’ll leave you…. for now! I can’t promise what my next project will be or when I’ll share it, but I’m so glad you’ve come along for the journey with me! A million thanks to everyone who has lent a helping hand or given advice this year, and to all of the bloggers and home DIY and renovation experts who inspire me endlessly, and to everyone who has encouraged me to keep on sharing. Your kind words mean the world to me, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this not-so-little peek into the process! :)
Have a great weekend! xoxo