Dining Room Update | 1

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When we moved into this house, I set three goals for myself:

  1. Share more progress.
  2. Remember that this house is your home, not just your project.
  3. Take your time.

So far, I’m not doing so hot on any of them. I spent almost literally all day Sunday obsessively painting trim when I really should have set aside some time for, oh I don’t know–relaxing, cuddling dogs, enjoying the great outdoors, eating Thai food, catching up with family, buying new pants (I lost two pairs of jeans in the move, and at this point I’m not sure if they’re coming back), etc, etc. This means that I don’t get to put a check mark next to #2 or #3.

With this post, I’m trying to take a step in the right direction toward #1 by sharing some update pictures that I’ve been promising for so long. I’m starting with the dining room because it’s the most relatively put together at this point. Of the planned updates, here’s what we’ve accomplished so far:

  • Refinish floors – Done! Love ’em.
  • Paint – I talked a little bit about my trouble with this color here, but it kind of grew on me, so I decided to stick it out with the blue(ish) and see what happens.
  • Replace baseboards – Coming Soon.
  • New light fixture – We’re going to Ikea Friday, and I may snag this one if it’s bright enough and I like it in person.

We’re also adding a few more items to the list.

  • Replace window and door casings – In addition to replacing the baseboards, Justin is going to work his magic on some Craftsman-style window and door casings, something more like this. We’re going to do these in white rather than wood, for the reasons that 1) the baseboards will be white, 2) it avoids the necessity to stain match, and 3) we just like it better. We are not, however, going to paint the windows themselves; instead we’re going with a white/wood combination, a la this:

    Painting the cross bars on old windows is a painfully tedious affair, and I find the contrast of the painted+stained trim to be more interesting, anyway. (PS, Bravo to the black handrail in that photo.)

  • Scrape the popcorn ceilings – I finally talked Justin into agreeing to this. YAY.

So the to-do list has grown more than it’s shrunk (at least work-wise), but I have a better sense of where the room is going, and that’s exciting.

Where the furniture/decor is concerned, pretty much nothing that’s currently in the room is going to stay long term. We’ve been looking for a new dining set for a while now. Just before we moved, we passed on two that would have been perfect because it didn’t seem like the right time to be adding more miscellaneous furniture to the moving effort. I still love our chrome/smoked glass table, but it doesn’t feel like it fits this space, and we’d like something that can accommodate more seating. I’d love to find a wood table and chairs with with (or the potential for) some knobbly upholstery.

Strategy-wise, this is an almost-square room with a symmetrical focal point, and it really wants a symmetrical design. But nothing nothing else in the room follows that symmetry–the window, french doors, and the living room entry are all off from the center–so instead I’m aiming for a winning balance. I’m not there yet, but I’ve got some ideas–like, for starters, a larger rug, moving the table/pendant more toward the center and in line with the windows, and finding scaled furniture or perhaps art to flank the french doors. That’s why I decided I better number these updates; there are bound to be more to come.

In other news, the couch is back, and the dachshunds knocked it out of the park! Pics coming soon!


The Long-Lost Foyer Pics Finally Emerge

I was hoping to show some of the first floor progress this week, but instead of following through with the clean-up efforts I planned last weekend, I decided to start taking down the wallpaper in the sun room and just ended up adding a large, wet, papery mess to the mix. Justin keeps telling me that I need to focus, which I think means that he wants me to finish a thing before I start tearing apart the next thing, but it’s very difficult for me to operate that way. I love the beginnings of projects, when I’m so full of excitement to see WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. I like finishing projects, too, but only after I have satisfied my curiosity about the other items on my to-do list. I’m the same way with food. If left to my own devices, I will sample a very small amount of everything in my kitchen, and then, if I’m still hungry, I’ll make an actual meal.

Understandably, not everyone prefers to live in this haphazard fashion. I’m sure it’s disconcerting to Justin when he notices that a portion of his wall has suddenly been torn off or spies a suspicious person with a screwdriver dislodging a floor tile. The moral of all this is–if attempting to renovate a home with a weirdo who is also your spouse or partner, be aware that their strange behaviors with only be amplified by the project, and make sure you like them enough to make up for it. So far I’ve been lucky.

Since there will be no first floor pictures this week, I’m bringing you the pictures of the entry way that I forgot when I initially posted the house tour last month.


Do you see Pepper and Fatty trying to force their tiny faces through the doors? The are struggling to handle that I’m on the other side, and they are not. Of course, they could have easily just come on over–the doors aren’t heavy–but then self-sufficiency isn’t in the chihuahua’s nature.


It’s a small space, but it’s got great features and the potential to make for a nice first impression. We still have a few updates on our list, though. Item one on the list is paint. The tree stencils aren’t bad, but they aren’t my thing. Plus, the tan tile, carpet, and walls aren’t giving me a whole lot of visual interest here.

I will say, though, that whoever applied the stencil did a very neat and thorough job with great commitment to the project because the stencils go a l l  t h e  w a y to the ceiling, and which has to be close to 20 feet high. This means that someone will have to go way the hell up there to paint, and I regret to say that I have a fear of being more than 3 or 4 rungs up on a ladder, so it cannot be me.

Item two on the list is the flooring. The flooring isn’t totally offensive, but it is boring and kind of shoddily installed. We were planning to put down a more period appropriate tile, except get this–the ORIGINAL HARDWOODS are underneath! On the basement ceiling we can see that they are continuous from the dining room, so hopefully they haven’t been damaged too much by the sub-floor and are in good condition for refinishing. Needless to say, my urge to start tearing things out is uncommonly strong when I look at these tiles.  IMG_6001

Item three on the list has to do with the placement of the doors. This item has a question mark by it, because we’re still thinking it through. Right now the doors open into the foyer, but I think it would make more sense for them to be moved to the other side of the jamb and open into the dining room. For one, the open doors take up a lot of precious wall space in the foyer, and the dimensions and placement of potential furniture are limited by the arc of the door swing.


For another, the open doors invisible from the main living area, so you never really get to enjoy how cool they are.


I’m thinking, once that tub full of vinyl records moves on to its forever home, why not have the doors open there? Well, there are a couple reasons why not. One is that the doors would need clearance in this room the same as they would in the other, which mayyyybe could be an issue if we ever got a larger table. A second reason is that the door on the right would then open in front of the light switch, meaning that you’d either have to partially close the door every time you wanted to adjust the lighting or push the electrical through to the other side of the wall and have the light switch in the foyer.

The good news is that the doors could be moved at any time, so it’s probably not worth thinking about any more while the sun room wallpaper is still half hanging off. Personality tests always ask whether you are a big picture person or a details person. My question is–which are you if you see all the details of the big picture at once? If you are a psychologist and can help me understand what this means about my potential to succeed as a functioning adult, please let me know. And to everyone out there who’s made it for 923 words, happy Monday, and thanks for reading. 🙂

Room Tour: Kitchen


You may think on first glance that the old kitchen color here bears some resemblance to our current living room, but you’re going to have to trust me when I say all greens are not created equal. Our living room color is painted in “Extended Olive Branch,” making it the color of world peace and harmony. The kitchen color could better be described as “Aging Celery,” a light green with brown sponge painting that did not exactly whet the appetite:
Green kitchen with wood cabinets and stone tile
The kitchen also continued the trend of interesting lighting choices: on one side of the room, track lighting with bright blue shades and on the other a kind of sad-looking ceiling fan with a hummingbird pull, presumably to make it look less sad.
Green kitchen with sponge painting before pass through was installed


Despite some of the design choices, there were good things about our kitchen. It’s a nice size, the footprint works well, and it was recently updated, so we were able to achieve a big impact with pretty low-budget updates.

Changes included painting the walls, trim, and cabinets, replacing the cabinet hardware, installing new lighting and a new back splash, and of course the opening up the pass-through, which made an equally big difference in this space as it did in the living room.

The longest-lasting and most labor-intensive project in the kitchen was definitely the back splash. First the old tile got knocked out:
Knocking out back splash tile
During the course of the demo, we uncovered some of the kitchen’s past looks. Behind the tile there was wallpaper from two different eras. There was large area of yellow floral wallpaper over the stove:
Uncovered vintage wallpaper in kitchen
There were also a few other smaller areas that covered with this green geometric pattern. Here’s a close-up of both designs:
Vintage yellow and brown floral wallpaper Vintage green geometric wallpaper
There are lots of times I wish I could peek in on my house during different periods in time just to see what it looked like, so finding this wallpaper got my imagination going. After all the tile and plaster was removed, we were left with just the lath showing:
Bare lath after back splash was removed
And actually, we lived with it like this for a while. It wasn’t bad in a raw, industrial kind of way, though of course the new back splash tile is way better.


Gray and white cabinets with granite counter tops and glass mosaic back splash
The back splash came from Lowe’s, and I snagged the hardware on eBay.
Kitchen pass through, Sears and Roebuck vintage atomic barstools
Vintage atomic bar stools by Sears and Roebuck – Craigslist
Blue, gray and brown glass mosaic tile back splash
The tile kind of makes the whole room, in my opinion.
Neutral glass mosaic back splash tile from Lowe's

Planned updates:

One of our intentions when adding the pass-through was to create a breakfast bar that would allow for extra seating close to the table. That plan is still in place, but there are a few items in front of it in the reno queue, so it may be a year or more down the line.

Dream updates:

We bought our house with the short term in mind and promised ourselves not to made costly updates if they were unnecessary or purely for cosmetic reasons. That doesn’t mean a girl can’t or doesn’t dream about what she might do if a million dollars did casually fall out of the cushions of some couch. I’m a simple girl, though, and my kitchen wish list is pretty simple, too:

  • New flooring – I’m really not a fan of the the multi-color stone tile. It’s not that it’s that bad, but it’s just about the last thing I ever would have chosen. I would have opted for a cork that looks similar to wood, or maybe a rectangular tile in a nice herringbone pattern.
  • Stackable washer/dryer in the pantry – Our pantry has oddly configured storage that is really only being used to house tools, dog stuff, and other miscellaneous items that could easily be moved into the basement.
    Our current laundry set-up is a small washer and dryer in the basement–small because they are the only units that can fit down our 27″-wide staircase. I would LOVE to have plumbing run to the pantry and give myself a roomy main floor laundry space. Maybe it would even cut down on the size of my laundry piles? Indeed, a girl can dream.

Room Tour: Living/Dining Room

For whatever reason, we only took one before picture of our living room area:Green living room before updates
My guess is that compared to some of the other weird things going on around the house, there didn’t seem like a whole lot to see here. Just your basic grass green walls with gold sponge painting (it’s hard to see in the photo, but trust me–it was there). Then, of course, the table lamp in the middle of the floor completes the look. The only oddity in the room was a built-on shelf in the corner behind the front door, which you can see a little bit in this photo:
Arched door way in a bungalow
These were in several rooms, and we called them built-ons rather than built-ins for the simple reason that they were just kind of hanging off the walls.

The biggest change we made in this room was to add a pass-through to the kitchen. This really helps the space feel larger and brighter.
Kitchen pass through, stainless steel pendant light
Justin and his dad installed the pass-through (un-installed the wall?) in one of those quintessential men-bonding-with-powertools kind of situations. Our walls are plaster, which means the demo was a two-step process involving 1) knocking out the plaster and 2) cutting through the lath, a set of narrow wooden strips nailed horizontally behind the plaster. There was lots of dust and a few shallow flesh wounds, but in the end they did a great job, and the pass-through is one of my favorite changes in the whole house.

Other changes consisted of tearing down the built-on, painting the walls, sanding and painting all the trim, cutting out and patching bubbles in the plaster, and installing a new stainless steel pendant light over the dining area. All throughout this process, we failed to take a single picture. I recall a conversation taking place a few times that went something like:

“Wow, you should really be taking pictures of this.”
“Yeah, I know.”

And here we are today.

After + Furniture:

Green living room with platform couch, Noguchi style table
A white dog adds a touch of elegance to any room.
Green living room with platform couch, Noguchi style table, Buckstaff chairs

1960s platform couch reupholstered in brown tweed
1960s platform couch (reupholstered) – Craigslist
Red velvet mid century Buckstaff chairs, Noguchi style table, Broyhill Brasilia commode side table
Vintage Buckstaff chairs – yard sale
Broyhill Brasilia side table/commode – flea market
Reproduction Noguchi coffee table – Craigslist
Vintage rug – yard sale
Mid century credenza
1965 credenza – Craigslist
Bookcase – Ikea
Mid century chrome and glass dining table, stainless steel pendant light
Vintage glass and chrome dining table – flea market
Rug (not vintage but still fabulous) – yard sale
1964 RCA Victrola Record Player Console
1964 RCA Victrola stereo/record console (it works!) – yard sale
We actually found an advertisement from a March 1965 Minnesota newspaper showing what this particular console went for back in the day:

Planned updates:

No large-scale plans for the living room area. Until recently, I’d been on a mad hunt for a new set of rugs (the rug now in our bedroom was previously in front of the couch), but that ended about three weeks ago when I found both rugs pictured at the same yard sale. Now, my main goal is to finally get some stuff up on the walls. That, and throw more parties.

House Tour

The purpose of this house tour is just to give an general snapshot of what the house looked like when we bought it and what it looks like now. I’ll post separate room tours to talk about the updates in each space and where we got some of the stuff.

A few basic stats about the place:

Year: 1930
Style: American Craftsman Bungalow
Size: 3 bed, 1 bath in 1224 sq ft finished space and about 900 sq ft unfinished basement


Pre reno living room. Green paint with gold sponge painting.

1144 living1-2


Pre reno kitchen with lime green paint, crazy hummingbird fan pull

Two tone white and gray cabinets with glass mosaic tile

Bedroom 1/Office

Pre reno peach colored office

Gray paint, industrial desk, Ikea curtains


Pre reno yellow bathroom with pedestal sink and storage

Light blue bathroom with white cabinets and ceramic tile

Bedroom 2/TV Room

Pre reno lime green paint with orange stenciling and crazy art installation

Chevron rug and mid-century bench

Master Bedroom

Pre reno master bedroom with light turquoise paint

Elegant dark green paint and mid-century bedroom set

In the next set of posts I’ll go room by room with lots more pictures, reno details, and decor. Stay tuned!