The new house was perfectly livable when we bought it. It passed inspection with flying colors. Multiple inspectors and work men commented on what a clean, well maintained little house and property it was. I remember one saying, "It's a little slice of Heaven." We did really like the house as it was, but there were a few things we wanted to do to make it out own.
Our Friend, Chris, agreed to be our contractor. He is very skilled and an artist t'boot, so we all worked really well together. He had great ideas as we went along; we are so grateful for his skill, hard work, and prayers along the way.
The kitchen. Let's start there. We loved the stained glass light fixtures, so those just stayed. There was an opening between the kitchen and the dining room with a big pantry (the large section of wall before the opening). It was, nice. But I knew that not having access to the eating area directly from the kitchen and the central location of the pantry would drive me nuts. So, we changed a few things. I lost the storage space of the pantry, but it was well worth it! We moved the dishwasher and cabinets that were next to the pantry against the wall with the windows and took the pantry completely out.
We added an island made of custom cabinets we found in the Valley Trader. We went through many combinations of these beautiful, but not-custom-for-us cabinets as the base for our island until we finally settled upon this. It's perfect!
I wanted green in the kitchen, and not on the walls. We decided to paint just the island cabinets and leave the rest white. I didn't have time or energy for a good refinishing job (I was pregnant, after all). So, we decided to chalk paint them. It was so satisfying to transform these dated but sturdy, well made cabinets into something that completely suited our taste. More on chalk paint later, but I used Lowes paint (so I could get just the color I wanted) and a chalk paint mix from B.B. Frosch. I highly recommend it!
We added a butcher block counter top and covered the beam in old barn wood--thanks to our friend Mike for installing and Strong Oaks Workshop for supplying the gorgeous barn wood! We found a couple of white wall cabinets and a wrought iron pot rack to fill in the rest of the space.
The room below was the living room and behind it was the master bedroom. We are upstairs-bedroom kind of people, and the two bedrooms upstairs were HUGE, so we decided to open up the back wall of the living room to create more living space. If you can look past our clutter, you will see what I just love about this space--opening that wall made the living area so open and sunny. Again, the light fixtures were already there. The ceiling fans are invaluable for getting cool air to circulate; we don't like using AC anymore than we have to. That fact that this one has stained glass accents is just a delightful little touch that we love about this house.
Next, let me introduce what Chris dubbed the "Super Hall" or the "German Cabinet Hall". This hall was a normal width that led from the kitchen to the master bedroom. The bathroom door and air intake vent were in this hall and it was carpeted along with the master bedroom. Once we opened up the master bedroom wall to turn it into a living room, Craig had the idea to actually widen this hall. We are going to put a woodstove in one of the living rooms, so his thought was it would greatly increase the flow of heat to the kitchen area. The downstairs bathroom was huge, so we would be making it a little smaller and cutting into the master bedroom closet space. Chris was all for it and even suggested that we could move the bathroom door and air intake around the corner so we could have one solid wall. Well, he also moved the door to the remaining closet space into the hall to increase the wall space in the living area. It was all brilliant. We intended to make it a sort of butler's pantry and put in some shallow cabinets along one wall to increase our kitchen storage after taking out the pantry. Then, I saw this gorgeous wall unit someone was selling. They bought it when the husband was stationed in East Germany. They brought it back here to the USA and moved it seven times! They were downsizing and just didn't have room at their new place so they sold it to us. It fits in the hall perfectly AND it's beauty delights us throughout the day as one of the focal pieces of our home. As Chris was remodeling, he suggested track lighting to highlight it even more. There too, I had just seen for sale a lovely set of stained glass track lights for $10. I liked them, but thought to myself, "They would match perfectly, but where in that house would I put them?" Chris said the right thing and the right time, and now they tie that hall into the the rest of the downstairs.
Widening this hall not only increased the airflow, it connected the living area to the kitchen. I love that I can be working in the kitchen and still hear what Craig is reading to the kids in the living room.
There was hardwood in two of the rooms (dining and living room), tile in some places, and carpet in the bedrooms and on the stairs and upstairs hall. We despise carpet. After pulling the carpet up ourselves at our first house-seeing what was under it!--we both agreed we would never live on carpet again. Well, we did live on carpet in our rental house, and we survived, but at our OWN house, we wanted hardwood. The stairs were the trickiest part, because they are meant to be carpeted. Mike, once again, did a beautiful job on, not only laying the floors, but the steps, too.
The spindles of the railing had to be completely redone because our five-year-old could easily fit between them. Craig worked long and hard, but the spindles are now a safe 4 inches apart. Our children are safe and they look fabulous. The bedrooms are hard to capture in a photo and I don't have any good shots of the kids two new rooms, yet. But, as I've said before, both bedrooms upstairs were huge, so there was enough space to turn the kids room into a boys and girls room and also, to add a master bathroom and 2nd walk-in closet to the master bedroom.
|Looking into Master bedroom from stairs: Before|
|Looking into Master bedroom from stairs: After|
|Master bedroom before|
|Master bedroom after|
|The new master bathroom|
I could write a novel about each tiny little change we made and all the things I love about this house, but I will spare you. :) Just give me a call if you want me to talk you ear off about what we've done here. Oh, and we haven't even begun to tackle the outdoors!