Third Floor Overhaul.

So it took us almost five years from when we first bought the house and the impending arrival of a new baby to motivate us to remove the old carpets from the third floor.  While the carpets weren’t old when we moved in they nevertheless were not attractive.  Carpets are just not my thing.  Especially old carpets really gross me out.

We discovered that there were old pine wood floors under the carpet and layers of linoleum.  I had no idea what condition the wood is in.  Nevertheless hoping for the best we hired someone to refinish the 100 year old pine sub floor.

We  moved everything out of the third floor (by we I of course mean Scott).  I felt totally incapacitated not being able to paint, move furniture or do any other type of renovation.  I was dying to paint the third floor but I’ve been advised it is best to avoid paint fumes when pregnant.  I decided to hire someone to paint the third floor and I was shocked to realize how much painters charge.  Scott and I painted the whole house ourselves and we were totally clueless as to how much money we saved by doing it ourselves!

Here are the “After” pictures of the third floor bedroom (used previously as an office room) and Hallway.  The floors look amazing.  I am really pleased with the way the third floor turned out.

The paint is Benjamin Moore Aura, Tropical dusk in Matte.  The butterfly chair was moved here from the living room.  The rugs are a Turkish Kilim runner and Persian rug purchased a while ago on eBay.

The Mid-century credenza is from eBay (a birthday gift to Scott).

The hallway is painted in Benjamin Moore Aura, Moonlight White, Matte.  This runner was also purchased on eBay a while ago.

 

Here’s what the room looked like after we moved everything out:

I had already painted the doors in Benjamin Moore Studio Finishes Chalkboard paint.

Here’s a close up of the hallway of what the floor underneath the carpet looked like.

Under the carpet we found an old Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper from 1960.

 

I will post some pictures of the new office room on the third floor soon.

This, that and the other.

It’s been a while…

Where have I been?  Well, we had another baby, Jai born on July 10, 2012.  Work has been crazy busy since my last post which has left me very little time to blog.  This does not mean that nothing has happened as far as renovating our house.  Partly due to my nesting instinct and partly because I was so busy at work and I was craving a creative release, we have done a lot of work to our house! More regular posts to follow. 

Missing Summer.

I can’t believe that it is almost Thanksgiving.  I am definitely not ready for Winter or the holiday season.  I have been really busy at work and that coupled with the short, dark and cold days are leaving me longing for some fun, sun and warmth. 

In reminiscing about the warmer days I thought I’d share some pictures of our house from Summer.  The picture below is of a spider that lived in the plants in the front of our house.  He spent the whole summer spinning his web on the various plants near our stoop. One day he would be sitting in the middle of his magnificent web on the Zebra Grass and the next day he would be furiously spinning his web on the rose bush.  He moved often but did not stray away from the front of our house.  Then one day it got colder and he was gone.  

We painted the brown stone on the front of our house in Toucan Black by Benjamin Moore.  By “we” I mean Scott.  He also painted the stone trim around the door and the six windows on the front of the house.  I would generally not recommend painting stone but it had already been painted brown by the previous owner and there was no cost effective way to restore the stone to its original glory. We primed the wall first with Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Exterior Primer.  Then we used “breathable” Benjamin Moore Ben Waterborne Exterior paint  in flat finish so that there wouldn’t be any issues with water retention.

These pictures were taken in June 2011.

Another addition to the Dining Room.

Lighting the dining room seems to have been my recent obsession.  I added a light to the wood paneling (opposite the wall of photographs) to mainly light up the space but also to shed some light on a fabulous painting that I recently purchased on eBay.

Here’s a close up of the painting:

The light is the Beryll wall spot light from Ikea (which cost only $14.99).  It comes with a really long white cord which is perfect for lighting pictures and blends in to the white woodwork.  I used wire clips to secure the wire behind the painting and along the bottom of the molding so that there weren’t an unsightly tangle of extra cord on the floor. 

The Vestibule.

When we bought the house one of the first things that our contractor suggested was that we get rid of the vestibule.  I am so glad that we didn’t.  I love walking into the house and having a space to put my keys, hang my jacket and take off my shoes.   The vestibule also has the added benefit of keeping out any cold drafts from entering the house.  In the winter we shut the vestibule door which keeps out the cold air from the living room.

Since the vestibule is really small I opted to cover the walls in Moroccan tiles.  I have always loved the designs of the tiles but it would have been very expensive to cover a large area with Moroccan tiles.  We used Saltillo tiles for the floor.  I bought the Moroccan cement tiles online.  I wish I could remember the site but Berber Trading, Tazi Design and Casbah Decor all have similar tiles available.  Here’s a close up of the tiles:


The lamp is a vintage Spanish fixture that I purchased on eBay. 

 

The ceilings are really high and the space looked a little cold so I decided to cover the walls gallery style with mostly Kiran’s paintings and drawings.  I put the pictures up in inexpensive Ikea Ribba frames.

We have one rack for coats, scarves, and bags.  We also have another small rack for keys, mail, sunglasses, umbrellas and other smaller items.  These racks are for our everyday use.  When we have guests we generally throw everyone’s jackets on our bed.  My next project is  to finish the stairway to the basement and install a long row of coat racks so that when we have people over they have a proper place to hang their jackets.  Old row houses are notorious for having minimal storage space and ours is no exception. 

This is a wrought iron coat rack I bought years ago at Anthropologie. 

I bought the Triple Hook Up Strip in Olive (below) by Three by Three from Velocity Design a couple of years ago.  It comes with four small magnets which hold notes, checks etc.  The larger hooks are great for sunglasses and mail and  we use the smaller hooks for umbrellas, Kiran’s sweaters etc. 


In this picture you can (barely) see the floor tiles.  It took us forever to find Saltillo tiles.  Scott and I went to a dozen tile places and then we finally found a place on Washington Avenue that had these tiles.  I think that they complement the Moroccan tiles perfectly. 

The last thing that we need to do in the vestibule is to strip the varnish off the wood door, prime it, and paint it in Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace which is the same white paint that we have used throughout the house on the moldings and panelling. 

When we bought the house the vestibule was covered in the ugliest brown, beige and cream tiles. Most of them were falling off and the space was just uninviting.  Unfortunately I don’t have a great before picture but this is what the vestibule looked like a few days after we bought the house. 







Dining Room Corner.

I feel like I have said it a million times before but my dining room is quite long and quite narrow so it tended to look like a corridor.  To make it feel like a room I have been trying to fill it up with art, photos and large furniture.  I have also been trying to add more light to the corners which tended to look a little gloomy and dark at night.  One of my latest lighting additions is this Patrick Townsend string light.  Not only does it look fabulous but it lights up the row of photographs very nicely. 

I just realized that the  photographs look really crooked!  I wish I can just reach in and straighten them.  I created a collage of pictures at the bottom of the wall so that Kiran can see pictures of Scott’s mother (who passed away), Scott’s grandmother who he rarely sees, and my parents in Sri Lanka.  He looks at them quite often and leaves his greasy fingerprints all over the glass!

Here is a close up of the string light with the flash off:

The Coral Pendant Light is up!

The old chandelier in the dining room was very ornate and a little bit too much for our dining room.  I have been admiring the Coral Pendant Light by David Trubridge for a long time.  I finally found a great deal online and bought it.  When it arrived it was  flat packed and the individual pieces had to be assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  It took Scott about two hours to assemble the light.

Even though it is huge (it measures almost two feet in diameter) it takes up a lot less visual space than the chandelier because of all the open spaces.

We installed a dimmer on the light switch and when the light is dimmed the shadows around the room are fantastic.  Even with the light off it looks like an amazing sculpture hanging from the ceiling. 

Should I do it?

So, if I were to paint the living room white then I feel like all the colorful things we have will pop.  I am hoping that the white walls will sort have the same effect as in the picture below.   I LOVE how the bright cushions stand out against the white walls and the white floors.  My biggest fear in painting the walls white is that it will look sterile and bland.  I have started to look into white paints.  So far my favorite is White Dove in Matte by Benjamin Moore.  Now that I have more or less made up my mind to paint only the living room white my biggest obstacle is to convince Scott! 

Via Abigail Ahern

Should I take the plunge and paint the living room white?

This indecision aside we have bought a new pendant for the dining room and done a few other things around the house.  Once I figure out how to upload the pictures off my new camera I will post some updates.

More is Always More.

While I may wax and wane about the color of my walls (white or full of color)  the one thing that I am quite certain about is that a space only feels personal when it is filled with objects that mean something to the person living there.  A perfectly styled home in a magazine while looking beautiful is essentially uninviting simply because it says nothing about the person living in it.  The more personal the home is the more alive it feels.  My mantra is More is Always More. 

I love the little things and the big things that I do to my home because I want to come home to a beautiful place.  I want to be reminded of where I come from, who my friends are and essentially be cocooned in a place of beauty.  Decorating for me is fun and relaxing.  I think that some people decorate to have the “perfect” place that they think will impress others. Some people rush to get stuff done and don’t seem to take any pleasure in the process of decorating.  Nothing about our house is perfect! It is old, odd-shaped and full of flaws…but those are all the things that I like about it!

I once had a hairdresser who told me quite authoritatively that photographs never belonged in the main living area.  He was totally appalled at my comment that  certain photographs are like art and should be hung all over the house! People and their rules! Nothing gets me more annoyed than all these rules people seem to impose on themselves and everyone else.  “No white after labor day”, “paintings only at eye level”, “granite a must in kitchens”, “ceilings all ways white” etc. are all random useless rules which should just be tossed aside in general and specifically when decorating a home.  Decorating should be a fun and instinct driven process.  I say do what you like and have fun with it!

Here are some homes that look fabulous while breaking a lot of the so called rules:

I love everything about this room: the gallery wall of vintage paintings, the mismatched shell chairs, the Eiffel tower bases on the chairs, the wood table. 

 Via SFgirlbybay

I love the dark ceiling and the wallpaper.

Room designed by Abigail Ahern (source unknown)

I love the blue walls, the paintings and all the colors in this room. 

Olatz Schnabel Bedroom (source unknown)

I really like the idea of painting the walls and the ceiling the same color…it opens up the space.  I am not sure why I never thought of doing this. I love contrast of the fabrics, colors and texture.  Also, the painting in the room to the left of the picture is fabulous.

Living Room Decorated by Abigail Ahern (source unknown)

Vintage paintings in the kitchen! what a great idea.  This is one of my most favorite kitchens.

Kitchen Decorated by Abigail Ahern (source unknown)

 P.S.  While I wish I could be doing some fun house project I need to get back to some work that I need to get done before tomorrow morning.  I was down with the flu and spent some time laying in bed and I think I am inspired all over again to tackle some house projects.  I know I have not been good at doing regular posts but I feel that I will be posting more regularly again.

Alive and Dreaming of White.

Yes I am alive and well.  I have had quite a relaxing summer (hardly any house projects with lots of relaxing).  Scott finished his Postdoc at Penn and had a couple of months off so he worked on some of the bigger projects like removing the wallpaper on the second floor hallway.  I bought a few things (outdoor lamp, and shower curtain rod to name a few) but I was generally uninspired to do any major work.  Recently I have been feeling like tackling a project or two.  Much to Scott’s dismay (and sort of mine) the one major thing that I have finally decided that must be done is to paint the house.  Yes we did only paint the house in 2007 when we bought it and it looks perfectly fine.  The only problem is that I really, really want a white house! I am not going to get rid of all the colorful things instead I just want all white walls.  I think that all my colorful bric-a-brac would look fabulous against a white background.  Don’t these rooms look so uncluttered and charming? I especially like the juxtaposition of the vintage furniture and mirror against the stark white walls. 

Via Emmas Design Blogg

Via Emmas Design Blogg

Via Emmas Design Blogg

Via Emmas Design Blogg
Via Emmas Design Blogg