Thursday, September 23, 2010

2010 Update: A Few Changes This Year :)

Today our family celebrates four years of life here at "Providence Cottage". We've had a lot of big changes in that time. A divorce. Me going back to school. Kids transitioning from homeschool to public school. Old friends moving away and new friends moving in. But through it all--this house has been here. Like a familiar hug that I get to walk into every day. And that means a lot.

Here's the only new piece of upholstered furniture I've bought since moving here. I love you zebra bench! :)
The house ready for Fall.

The house ready for Spring/Summer.
I love what changing out a few pillows, accessories, and flowers can do for a home. It's not expensive and it always feels like the whole place got a makeover.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


After a lot of requests, I have decided to create a separate blog to tell the story of our crazy, whirlwind 3 month remodel.

In September of 2006, we purchased our 1776 sq. ft. home. It was built in 1988, in an older, well-cared for subdivision, on a large lot with lots of mature trees and a garden spot. We were thrilled! The place was in good shape, but it wouldn't have mattered if I'd moved into a brand new house--I'm an interior designer and that always means CHANGE!!! We really wanted to create a place that reflected us and our lifestyle, a place we could entertain friends and children, and easily be happy in for the next twenty years.

We moved in on a gorgeous September Saturday. After my husband set down the first box he walked over to the wall separating the living and dining room and punched a hole in it (what a manly man :)!)--the wall had to go. I quickly followed by beginning to peel off big sections of the plaid birdhouse wallpaper that ran throughout the dining and kitchen area. Now we were committed!

All the furniture except the mattresses, a few of the kids' toys, and the TV stayed packed into the garage. After about two weeks, we finally caved and had to bring in the table and the family room couch--we couldn't go on sitting on boxes!

We have four boys who were ages 8, 6, 2, and 4 months at the time. For their sakes, we worked like the dickens--finishing the majority of the remodel by Thanksgiving time. It meant that I would get up about 5:30 AM and paint, demolish, clean up, and paint some more until nearly 2:00 AM every day. Then I would wake up with my baby all night long, and start in again the next day. Every muscle in my body ached constantly. My sweet husband did all the heavy labor and had the battle scars to prove it. My uncle, a contractor, saved our lives several times by helping with the sheet rocking and electrical work. We are so grateful to all our family and friends who came to help and were paid only in pizza.

Now I have to mention that I am an incredible cheapskate (and proud of it!). We had a strict budget to work with, and we stayed within it. That meant that some of my projects (kitchen backsplash, bathrooms, fieldstone patio, fireplace.....) had to be put off for a later date, but with a little creativity and some killer bargain shopping, I was surprised how much we were able to get. I also learned a lot of lessons about what you can do yourself, and what will make you weep openly and scream "why? WHY?!" to try and do on your own. I tried to give a brief rundown on each project and what we did. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

So, look through the before and afters for each room, and marvel at how we lived amongst the "during" shots. It is all still a work in progress, but the majority of it is done. Hooray! It truly is the Evolution of a Home!

*though I will update room photos from time to time, the majority of our new projects, including holiday decorations, will be at the very bottom of the page.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


BEFORE: Here it is just a few days after we moved in. Notice the semi-sized dumpster in the driveway--we would soon fill it to overflowing! What we loved about the house: Its location, the big bay window and two little pop-out windows in the front, the interior layout--all on one floor, and the size of the lot. What we didn't like: the giant tree that was pushing up the driveway pad and threatning the foundation, the brick patio out front (we like to sit out back!), the overgrown bushes, and the grey-ge with teal trim color.
DURING: The bushes are out and the tree is pruned, but not much else.

Who's that man in my tree? This big willow tree in the backyard was slowly dying from locusts. Down it goes! The tree removal here and in front was definately a BIG added expense we weren't planning on, but what good would it do to fix up a house only to have large trees fall down on it during the first bad storm?

AFTER: So here is the outside now! I painted the front door red right away. I love houses with red front doors! New lights and numbers came next. Pulling out one of the two giant Elms let a lot more sunshine in and made for a nice burm on the left side of the house (which you can't see). We added the second island out front in June, about the same time we pulled up all but a border of the brick patio. The final touch was having the whole house painted in August.

WHAT'S UP NEXT?: *Letting all the perrenials (Clematis, Russian Sage, Peruvian Verbena, and a few boxwoods) fill in the front. *Adding a dummy dormerwith the same board-and-batten trim work right in the middle of the roofline to break it up a bit. *Reroof it, but probably in the same color since it matches the brickwork.

UPDATE 2010:
The old hot tub got to be too much work so when someone offered to take it off my hands, I jumped at the chance. And lucky me--beneath it was a concrete slab. Now I'd have TWO patios :)

A dear friend helped me shore up the deck that connected the two patios. I added a big ottoman and umbrella bought on a Memorial Day sale, and brought the robins egg blue chairs out from my boys room (where they never got sat in).

And voila! .... An outdoor room that I love to be in. Eating breakfast or reading a magazine out here is the best!

Living Room/Dining Room

BEFORE: This is the wall seperating the living room from the dining room coming down. You can see big chunks of it in the pile that still have the plaid wallpaper on them. We started ripping this apart BEFORE our dumpster arrived and had to live in this rubble for several days.

Even the ceilings were purple!

The dining room in progress. I tried to make our 'war zone' feel a little homey by keeping a centerpiece on the table. It was nice to have somewhere to sit down during the spare few minutes we had to sit.

DURING: This is our living room on a 'clean' day! My two year old liked to hide behind the giant sheets of drywall and I was always afraid he'd knock them over on someone or something! As you can see, this room--and almost all the rooms in the house--were very purple. I rather like purple, especially in my flower beds, but I don't find it very soothing as a focal color in my own home. We nicknamed the house "the purple palace" and soon attacked it with 15 gallons of paint!

The wood floors are down. They are unfortunately covered in everything out of the rooms that were being carpeted. This was actually Halloween night! Trick or treaters probably thought we were some kind of hoarders. The brick veneer is up, the couch is in(!), and I'm still painting--this time an old bench and our chairs.


I LOVE not having a wall here! For big gatherings, we put the couch in the bay window and have lots of room to set up a second table or extra seating. The photo on the wall in the living room was from a Fossil display in an optical shop--they were throwing it out, so my hubby--knowing how much I love vintage artwork--brought it home for me.

Only my sofa is new (Room and Board). Everything else was either slipcovered or painted. My big tweed covered ottoman was once my coffee table--for $15 in fabric,$4.00 in silver upholstery tacks, and $40 in upholstery fees, I now have a place to put up your feet or enough room for 3-4 people to sit around. The hutch houses my computer and office supplies. My mom, who had passed away 8 months earlier, use to pull my boys around in the wagon on top of the hutch--it's a nice reminder of her each time I look at it.

The dining room brick got a sandblasted look--I really wanted a Manhattan loft look. I got the large table to seat eight for a steal at Cost Plus World Market--a floor model marked down to $200. The end chairs are "Oh" from Karim Rashid for Umbra, and the x-back chairs are from an unfinished wood warehouse ($50 each--I painted them white. The bench was free from my sister-in-law, also painted by me. Total cost for my dining room furniture $420). The Dick and Jane artwork is from a calendar I had. Aaron Brothers cut the mats for me, and then I bought the frames. Great practice for my little ones learning to read! My "prize find" in this room is the chandelir. Bombay Company wanted something like $499 for it, and I stalked it until it was on clearance for $75. I love to put leaves in it for fall and garland in it for Christmas.

View into the whole area. My kids love to chase eachother around the pillar--an added bonus to the fact it's still supporting my dropped kitchen ceiling.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Family Room

BEFORE: The previous owners had all white furniture in here, which I guess made the eggplant tone-0n-tone stripes in here work for them. It felt a bit like a big purple cave to us though, and completely swallowed up our chocolate brown furniture.

The kids pitched in to help prime the walls in here. They really loved helping to paint, and I loved having them help--even if it meant sanding off a measurable amount of drips! Bless their hearts, they were such good sports about the whole big project!
DURING: I love my blue ceiling--it feels like the sky! There were originally only plug-in sconces in here, so we added overhead lighting (thanks to our friends the Porters who are electricians!). I liked the horizontal stripes, so I kept them on one wall. Thank goodness for the TV to keep children entertained during all the work!

AFTER: The brown paint made it feel so much larger! The carpet is made with tactesse fibers, so it's wonderful to just lay down on (or wrestle on as is usually the case in our house!). The couch was a $500 steal at RC Willey--it can be climbed on and ate on, and I don't care because it all wipes off with a damp rag!

This room ended up taking a lot of our hand-me-down furniture, but for as hard as this room gets played in, it's just what it needed. The old drawers hold my fabric, diapers, puzzles, the laptop, and play-doh stuff. I love drawers!

We would love to add a center fireplace with built-ins on either side one day, but for now the hutch we got when we were first married (plus a coat of red paint) work just fine.

Master Bathroom

The poor master bathroom has been nearly done a few times now, but two floods have required some ripping up and re-arranging. Photos (of what will hopefully be a lovely, though small, room) coming soon!

Master Bedroom

The walls and ceiling were a chilly shade of blue--great for spas, but not for the place I sleep! The pergo floors were neat, but unfortunatley all the seams were warped from having dogs potty on them. This was the first room I started painting, but one of the last I actually finished!


Slowly getting the walls painted and adding the walk in closet.

For about 3 weeks, we could open up the closet doors in our bedroom and see straight through into what was then 2 more bedrooms.

AFTER: We got the bed on a huge sale at Bedroom Expressions. It use to have a big seashell scroll at the top, but we removed it to streamline the look. The green paint with a slight tint of yellow to it is called 'Nutria' (Sherwin-Williams). Besides my comforter, my friend made all my bedding. Normally she would charge an arm and a leg (and maybe your first born child too!), but LUCKY ME!--she hates painting. I painted two rooms for her, one of them in a deorative finish, and she sewed for me. I love bartering!

The prints on the wall above the bed are from 1959--found in an old scrapbook of my mothers. After searching for the right color of red for the lampshades with no luck,I finally painted a pair of $5.00 brown paper ones and then sealed them with a coat of modge podge. We actually use our ceiling fan all year long, so I'm glad I found one that was contemporary looking enough to blend into the room.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bedroom #2

BEFORE: The house originally had 4 bedrooms. We combined 1 and 2/3 of them into a larger second bedroom, and took the other 1/3 of the fourth room to create a walk-in closet in the master bedroom. This is a photo of the 'combining' process. My boys (who had to sleep on their mattresses on the floor for 2 months!) called the color on the walls 'band-aid'. By the time we got in here, I couldn't bring myself to repair any more drywall, so I just painted over the exisiting paneling.
AFTER: It's hard to get a 7 and 9 year old to keep their room clean enough to take an 'after' photo--but these will have to do for now (this was taken right before Halloween, so there's a lot of spiderweb decorations!) They LOVE the chalkboard walls and they are well used not only by my boys, but all the visiting friends as well.

There's a whole other side to this room you can't see--we call it the "dressing/play area". More pictures to come soon (maybe right after I finish stitching the sides of their raggedy quilts!)

Laundry Room

It only took three and a half years to finish but the laundry room finally got done! Here it is Before. I put that patch of dark brown paint on the wall years ago and then never finished because I didn't know how to move the washer and dryer out. Thankfully I had a good friend who helped me come get the job done! AFTER:

Now I feel like a queen in my glamorous little laundry room! The chandelier came from my in-laws old house. My boys used to lay under it as babies and be mesmerized by the light being splashed around by the crystals. When they built a new house, they made sure to savage the old chandelier for me.

I couldn't have thought of a better place for it! The curtain like coverings over the shelves in there are actually pillow cases with clip rings on a tension rod. And I love my mirrored butterflies hanging on the right-hand wall:

Bedroom #1

BEFORE: This was one of the last rooms we tackled. We had tried to set up a little play area for the kids in here--a respite from all the piles of rubble and sharp power tools. From a painter's perspective--this room was miserable. It took 3 coats of primer to cover the vine stenciling. The fish mural was painted with some kind of puffy, glittery fabric paint, and after FIFTEEN coats of primer, the large red fish continued to bleed through. I would have nightmares about that red fish! I finally hit it with a sander and re-textured it--mission accomplished!
AFTER: In all the houses I've lived (4 now), I've painted these diamonds up on a wall somewhere. I love the way they're whimsical, but still sophisticated. My little guy is "modeling" his favorite train picture for you.

The fish are gone! We kept the shelves, but changed them out with white ones. Lots of room to play in here--a definate advantage over our last house!

Main Bathroom


As you can see, the bathroom is pretty small--but it works! The peel and stick green tiles were curling at the edges and had dog piddle stains on them.

There use to be a butterfly wallpaper border along the top of the wall. I had removed the vinyl outer layer by this picture. The walls were a kind of minty green. Judging by some traces of paint we found, the vanity in here was at one time painted orange and the walls a bright aqua.

DURING: The entire subfloor had to be cut and chisled off to make room for tile backerboard. It took my husband and our friend Joey nearly 4 hours to finish this little space. Probably the most labor intensive project we took on!
AFTER: New slate flooring.

Towel hooks instead of bars--much easier for children to hang up wet towels on. I love the graphic statement of numbers, plus each boy knows what towel is his. These are just off the shelf address numbers from the Lowes.

I think even bathrooms can pull off big artwork like the print above the toilet. The small frame on the tank says "put the lid down"--a very valuable message for a 4 boy household.

UP NEXT: *Since nothing but paint and flooring were changed in either bathroom, we can only imagine all the fun things we could do in them later on down the road when the budget permits. I'd love to do some mosaic tile shower surrounds and turn a midcentury modern dresser into a vanity.