When shopping for a new home, one becomes used to looking past aesthetics in order to see the potential in the space. Simple tasks like changing the paint color to more complicated undertakings like removing walls all take a certain amount of vision, and visualizing the space as it will look like in the future is one of the most thrilling parts of house hunting. I would have never thought the house we waited two years to find would involve me designing a room around a particularly vibrant shade of canary yellow. And yet, here we are.
We threw out our initial plans for the house about twenty minutes into our move. Originally, I’d wanted to tackle the walls and flooring, giving us a fresh start and a blank slate to make the house our own. The property had been owned by the same family for decades; it had been clearly loved and used for their hobbies and hosting alike. There was a love for art and literature throughout and, as you can see, a love for using a lot of color.
After the family began to clean out the estate, what was left in the house stayed in the house. This meant we were left with lots of garbage, a few antiques, and a couple of really wonderful gems—one of them being an amazing floral couch.
While I waited for Joe to arrive with our movers, I sat in the peach room, on our new (old) floral sofa I was so pleased to inherit. Movers came through the door with a few chairs that were placed next to me. They looked both at home and completely new all at once. I guess that’s when I decided to keep the quirks of the home we had purchased instead of washing them away.
Why We Decided to Move Slowly with Redesigning This House
The decision came from two impulses. The first was that I had been feeling a bit uninspired in our old house. Everything here was so new and quirky and not “me,” but in a way, it was also VERY me. It felt like I had the opportunity to design in a box I would have otherwise never felt I had permission to play in. The second was that I was TIRED and didn’t particularly feel like spending money! The thought of moving everything we had just unpacked only to tape and paint and move things AGAIN, all while the future is so uncertain…it just felt heavy.
Originally, we had planned to outline a very detailed, phased approach for you today, one that would include our renovation plans. And eventually, we will. Jim McDonald will be at our home today (from a safe distance) to do some ideation and there is no doubt I’ll be itching to get started once we put our heads together. Now, instead of talking about how to bring character to a blank slate, we’ll be talking about what to preserve and what to improve. It feels like a shift in thinking that makes way for a more resourceful approach to design, not to mention one that requires a renewed sense of creativity for myself.
Instead of talking about how to bring character to a blank slate, we’ll be talking about what to preserve and what to improve. It feels like a shift in thinking that makes way for a more resourceful approach to design, not to mention one that requires a renewed sense of creativity for myself.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, the fact that I felt so drawn to working with what is. It wasn’t planned or even expected. Maybe I’ve come to appreciate the insight that comes with taking things slow instead of keeping up at a neck-breaking pace. Perhaps it’s the injection of color that has brought a renewed sense of optimism, the permission to be less than perfect or trendy. If anything, it’s a welcome change during an age of uncertainty. I can make something inspiring out of working with what I have, and now is the time to do so.
So What’s Next?
So far we haven’t spent any money on new furniture, paint, or materials aside from some 3M Command Strips and a T.V. mount. That will change. I have my eye on a couple of vintage pieces that will help bring the yellow and peach rooms to life and cost less than redoing the room completely.
We’re in the beginning stages of planning updates to the kitchen. While we are planning to move slowly with this space and preserve plenty of the existing character, some of the features in the kitchen aren’t in great condition (the cabinets, for one) and there are certain changes we would like to make. If there is one thing we will do, it will be adding a gas cooktop. Other updates may or may not include replacing the cabinets, floors, and countertops and making some changes to the layout. I’d like to open up certain areas and create a larger dining space for entertaining.
We will limewash and paint the brick in the basement, to help with the lack of natural light.
We will paint and wallpaper our bedroom, most likely to match the trim.
We will swap out the wallpaper in the kids’ yellow bathroom with something that better suits our style and brings the retro style to life.
We will replace ceiling fans with light fixtures, update our security system, and update the heating and cooling systems to be more energy efficient.
I would love to add more natural light to the entryway and eventually change the tile in the space. I’m not sure that will be in the budget if we do the kitchen.
And lastly, we will be making tweaks to the colorful rooms as they need to be addressed. The room that is in the best shape is the peach room. The yellow room and pink room have chipped plaster and peeling wallpaper beyond repair. While yellow will continue to be prominently featured, we may paint the ceiling white, match the trim with the wall color, and paint the mantle a contrasting shade of charcoal. The library may go from pink to lavender. We will see.
It feels so good to let my intuition guide this process rather than forcing all my decisions at once. Oftentimes we have to make decisions even when we have renovation fatigue, and that’s OK. But if you’re living in a house full of choices you’d never make yourself and a tight budget, consider what you might kinda-sorta like about a few of the quirks of the home. You might find a solution hidden in plain sight.
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dog. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.
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