Before and After Old House Design The Scenery House

New House First Steps – The Dining Room

March 20, 2017

Before moving in, the first room we tackled was the dining room. It was low hanging fruit (that’s a phrase people use, yes?) as it’s a smaller room and one for which we already had the necessary furniture. It’s not quite finished yet but it is the only place we’ve hung anything on the wall. Lemme show you where we started.

As you’ll remember from this post, this is what the dining room looked like when we first saw it. It was stuffed with furniture and being used as a TV room.

Here it is all cleaned out. The rug was hiding some dark and pretty scratched up floors. The window treatments had been covering… most of the windows.

One of the first things I did for our house was to remove almost all of the chair rail. It was not original and was probably added sometime in the 80s or 90s. Chair rail is usually reserved for dining rooms but our home also had it in two bedrooms and the breakfast nook/mudroom. Removing chair rail isn’t too tough, you just slide a blade along the top and bottom edges to break the caulk and then use a pry bar to separate it from the wall. The real work comes from patching the area behind the chair rail where the nails have pulled some plaster out with them. Ready Patch is my go to for all patching and is really the best thing out there to repair small areas of plaster or wood. Our chair rails had wallpaper behind them with raised layers of paint above and below. I scraped off the wallpaper, patched, sanded and patched and sanded again in perpetuity for ever and ever.

I am a slow and meticulous painter which means it takes me an eternity to finish a room, so I wanted to reduce the number of coats I had to apply. I used Behr’s Marquee paint in Cameo White instead of my favorite white, Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. This paint is pretty amazing. It’s guaranteed 1 coat coverage as long as you use their colors – you can’t have them color match and still keep the guarantee. The paint has great coverage and I only had to go back through and touch things up in a few areas, I’d call it something like one and a half coats.

There are lovely built-ins with beveled glass doors housed in two corners of the room on the exterior wall. The inside was painted a 90s cranberry shade that was too warm for the stained wood. I painted the inside with Behr’s Premium Plus Ultra color-matched to Benjamin Moore’s Raccoon Fur. This color works so well to show off our black and white serving pieces and our growing ceramics collection.

[ceramics: yuki vase | arc ceramic bowl]

[ shapes towel | bowl ]

Our credenza used to hold our TV in the living room of our apartment but is now being used in the dining room. It’s great for laying out snacks (usually just 10 kinds of hummus) when we entertain. Inside are tons of board games as we are more into game nights in than big nights out.

Our bright kilim brightens the room and is a favorite piece we picked up from eBay for the apartment. The dining table and chairs were a fantastic $80 craigslist find that have been with us longer than we imagined. I love the ladder back chairs but the table itself leaves a lot to be desired. The top is a wood-look laminate and the legs are some kind of strange shape.

We swapped out the crystal chandelier for the popular IKEA SINNERLIG. This is a great, inexpensive fixture but I have plans to move it to our sunroom whenever I find the right replacement.

Although I’d like to hang more art in here, find the perfect table and new chairs, plus find the perfect chandelier, it feels very good for now, even almost done.

The Scenery House

You Have to Start Somewhere – The First Floor

March 6, 2017

This is the view from our dining room as of this weekend. I wish we could start here in my tale about our house but isn’t it better to start at the beginning?

To tell this story right (the story of our first house) I have to start by saying this is not our dream house. We fell in love with a different house in perfect condition in a fantastic school district. It was a Tudorish-Craftsman home with leaded and stained glass windows, tons of built-ins, infinite charm and a fantastic river view. It had been meticulously cared for and loved and it was perfect. But it was not to be. We did not buy our dream house, with all its Hansel and Gretel charm, and we were heartbroken.

On our search for a home, we had looked at some serious fixer uppers, one with a roof so rotted that moisture caused mold in the basement 4 stories down. And then there was the one with an actual spring running through a wall in the basement. We were willing to do a ton of work for a house we would love someday but had to draw the line at black mold and unintentional water features.

When I first saw the listing for what would become our home, it was the sunroom that caught my eye. Surrounded by busy wallpaper, I saw the most amazing windows. As I perused the details, I that it had central air, a deck, 2 bathrooms, a 1st floor powder room, and a 2 car garage. All of these are things we never thought we would find in an older home within our budget. The listing photos gave us an idea of what we’d see but couldn’t quite prepare us for the visual overload we would see upon our first visit. The previous owner was a bit of a decorator. I must say that while everything did go together, there was just so much of all of everything.

See what I mean. Those. Windows. The wallpaper is somewhat divisive – some people think we should keep it and some think we should burn it to the ground. I appreciate the quality of it and like that it is a reproduction of a historical pattern but it will not be staying. At closing, the previous owner made sure to tell us that it was very expensive and we might want to think twice before getting rid of it. Thanks!

Connected to the sunroom is the living room. It was so stiffly furnished that it was probably not actually a living room but more of a room never meant to be sat in. The walls in this room had yellow striped wallpaper and the windows were dressed with drapes, valances and shades.

The good news here is that the entryway walls were painted an off-white instead of cranberry for the showing. You’ll notice one of the best things about this house is that almost none of the woodwork has been painted. That is such a rare find and something we’re very lucky to have. The carpet on the stairs was the first thing to go the day we got the keys.

The dining room served as a TV room for the family who lived here before us. As you saw at the top of the post, they kept their dining table in the sunroom, which must have been awkward as it’s on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen. When we went to the first showing of the home, we barely noticed the corner built-ins through all the busy decor.

The kitchen had been updated with newer appliances and granite counter tops. The cabinets are in worse shape than they appear here and the layout is not ideal for us. With the kitchen, as with the rest of the house, we are taking our time to learn how we use it before making huge changes. The drapey valance in the kitchen is really something.

There could not be more chairs in here. We’re currently using the breakfast nook as a coffee nook, mudroom and Penelope’s dining room. In this photo, you get a great look at the aggressive wallpaper border that goes very well with ceiling fan.

I will end the tour of the 1st floor with the powder room. The bird’s nest mirror is a true treat and perfectly complements the birdcage ceiling light you cannot see. You also cannot see the wallpapered ceiling with a border of cherubs.

I can’t wait to share more before pictures of our house along with progress pictures. Undecorating this house did amazing things but also revealed a lot of lazy work and quick fixes. As the house begins to feel more and more like us and as we pour ourselves into fixing it up, we are shaping its future as our dream home. We are very proud of our home and the opportunity to show it the love and care that it deserves, cherubs and all

The Scenery House

The Story of Buying Our First Home

February 27, 2017

We bought a house! We are homeowners! We used to sit around and talk about how one day, some day, we’d have our own house. We were actually pretty sad to leave our apartment (we were there for 7 years!) but it was time for us to grow into our own home. Here is the house the second time we saw her, brimming with window treatments you can tell are too much even from outside.

She’s a lovely 1929 brick home with beautiful leaded glass windows. She has suffered from over decorating, overgrowth and neglect. Inside layers of wallpaper and curtains covered up details and outside trees turned to shrubs and covered windows and doors. And that’s to say nothing of the ivy covering almost every square inch of the yard.

We closed in July of last year and have been making lists, finding problems, finding more, and slowly making her pretty again with blood, sweat and tears.

Andy and my dad could not wait to trim down all the shrub trees blocking windows and doors around the house.

So much better. There’s a whole side door there!

And just look at those sunroom windows. As soon as I saw those windows, I knew this was the house for us.

We’ve done a lot inside the house too since we’ve moved in like removing almost all of the 80s/90s chair rail and wallpaper. We ripped up the carpeting and had the floors refinished, replaced a few light fixtures and did a good bit of painting. But there’s so much more to do – We need a new driveway! The powder room is a disaster! The master bath is depressing! I want a new kitchen! Every room needs to be painted! Wallpaper is holding walls together! What about a fenced in yard for Penelope? The whole 3rd floor could be a studio/office! We have no 3 prong outlets! Are you worn out yet? I am.

I’ve got a lot of before pictures, process pictures and not quite done pictures to share so stay tuned.

Art + Design Shopping

Kate Zeremba Wallpaper for Chasing Paper

June 15, 2016

Designer Kate Zaremba has collaborated with Chasing Paper to release a limited edition collection of 5 wallpapers. I love wallpaper. The right pattern can transform and add perfect polish to a room. Once in a while I see a pattern I can’t get over. I spotted the blush tone Flora pattern on the Home Is Where The Hart Is Instagram last week and fell in love.

It’s so perfect it almost hurts. Picture that above classic black and white tile in a bathroom. It is everything.

She’s got some other truly strong patterns. Here are two more of my favorites:

Bright Eyes. I’m into the idea of putting a million eyes on someone while the use the bathroom.

Swansy. So dramatic and elegant. Love.

I would snap up Flora in a second it’s not quite in my budget yet. I’ve got the perfect project for it though, it would be stunning. Internet, are you out there? Get a girl a discount!

Art + Design DIY

DIY Minimalist Hanging Photo Display

May 19, 2016

There’s a certain minimalist/bauhaus inspired wall hanging photo display showing up in the most stylish home photos. The original is beautifully designed, simple, clean and made of brass. I love it but it’s pricey and I can’t quite justify the purchase, so DIY it is.

My version features a reversible weight with a choice of wood or faux marble. The faux marble bit is made with Sculpey and you can even make a few versions and switch them out, just use double sided tape or thin velcro to attach the Sculpey to wood.

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Furniture Interior Styling Shopping

Mid-Century without Kitsch

April 13, 2016

Mid-century furniture is a staple in most stylish homes. Simple mid-century pieces can work with nearly any decor style, the key is choosing the right pieces and knowing which to avoid. Unless you’re into time capsule living (no shade), I recommend avoiding “atomic” pieces. To achieve a more elegant and elevated look, choose materials like real wood, leather and velvet over plastics and vinyl. Remember that the tapered leg is a mid century gift that should be used in moderation. I’ve put together an eclectic and a minimal look to show how mid-century pieces lend themselves to each modern style.

[sconce / bolster pillow / kuba cloth pillows / framed print / sofa / rug / chair / credenza / coffee table]

This mid-century modern look leans eclectic with the traditional rug, rich emerald velvet sofa, rattan coffee table base and hammered details on the credenza. The mud cloth pillows add a graphic element and tie in the black and white accents. All these things are dying to be paired with tons and tons of plants. I’d kill them all. I’m sorry, plants.

[floor lamp / framed print / mobile / credenza / sofa / rug / coffee table / chair]

So clean, so modern, so light and fresh — it speaks to my soul. This look is anchored by a teak framed sofa and a gorgeous credenza on a metal base. Clean, structured lines are easy to find in mid-century pieces and pair so well with modern objects. I’ve got heart eyes all over for that blush geometric rug and leather sling chair.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Chairish to participate in their Mid-Century Modern Mood Board Challenge.

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

April 8, 2016

  • Poketo keeps getting better and better and I love that they’re working with designers like Ladies & Gentlemen Studio. Their most recent collaboration is this stunning Marble iPad Stand. There are few tech accessories out there that are beautiful to look at and even fewer stand alone as art objects. The fine materials used — marble, brass and wood — along with impeccable design, make this sculpture in itself.
  • Techies Project is a much needed project focused on sharing the stories of the underrepresented faces in tech.
  • Etsy’s new Pattern service lets you turn your shop into a website that’s more you and less Etsy.
  • The resurgence of winter weather on the East Coast has me craving curry.

The above is a list of my favorite bits of the internet from this past week. I <3 the internet.