Well, we did it! We FINALLY decided on an exterior trim/siding color that I love. It didn’t come easy, and one dormer may or may not have 7 different colors of paint underneath the final coat, but I’m glad we didn’t settle.
About a week ago I decided on two colors for the exterior no matter what. I thought, let’s just do it. If I don’t love it, it’ll be ok. It’ll look ok.
Well, it didn’t even look ok. In fact, it looked like baby blue primer once it got on the house. Safe to say, that’s not even close to what we’re going for.
So after calling in some expertise from a local designer/church friend to reinforce that it “did not look ok,” much internal struggle and suffering the embarrassment of walking back up to the painters with – ah,hem – three more test colors, we have a color on the dormers and trim that makes me happy. Sherwin Williams Bunglehouse Gray is the darker shade and Analytical Gray for the accents. Let’s not talk about the irony of the name of the lighter shade.
The Bunglehouse Gray is far more green and “earthy” than I wanted to go, but it works with the brick. I just had to get out of my head that this was going to be a painted-brick, white home right now. I had to take a step back and let that go, and then I saw that the house can be lovely if I just let it be!
That was SO NOT EASY. But it’s done. We’re happy. We’re moving on…!
Another momentous occasion that happened over the week was that the house was primed with a coat of KILZ. I went by one afternoon and had to leave immediately because of the fumes and the smell. Whew! Don’t know how people stand to do that!
We also “decided” (because now you know what I mean when I say the word “decided”) to give SW Pure White a go on the interior walls. I did a little test patch and, although it looks different in every. single. room. I think will be a nice, cool shade of white since we plan on accenting with grays throughout the house. I did try others including Alabaster (which took on an interesting yellow tinge in our lighting), Moderne White (it’s straight up gray and will probably end up being our cabinet color), Nuance (gray again), and High Reflective White (self-explanatory as I put on my sunglasses). Thank y’all for all the suggestions! If you couldn’t tell, our builder recommended Sherwin-Williams paint for multiple reasons, so we were a little limited on the follow through with other brands. I’m excited to see the first coat of Pure White next week and hopefully it’ll speak to me.
Although I’m obsessing over all white walls, we’re considering a few other colors to incorporate throughout the house. I want our bedroom to be very calming and a good mix of masculine and feminine and the bathroom will be pretty much black and white. Lots of room for fun there!
When asked, Alice says she wants her room to be pink (of course), so I’m still thinking just a barely-there pink like the Intimate White for her room. Her furniture is an off-white shade, so that should work well. Something that’s really important to Michael and me is to teach our kids that there are other people, places and cultures in our world besides the Southern small-town bubble we live in. Don’t get me wrong – we LOVE our bubble. But we also want our kids to understand the bigger picture. So, plans are to make Alice’s room travel-themed so she can learn about and be exposed to new places every times she’s in it. I’m going to convert this beautiful Riffle Paper Co. calendar (at 60% off!) into some artwork and have ordered a sample piece of fabric from their new line. I don’t want it to be super themey, but I think these accents will be sweet and hopefully meaningful to Alice as she grows up.
With Alice’s nursery, we went really neutral with soft shades of pink and khaki. It was perfect and I loved spending time in her room more than any other in the house. But, with Baby Sister’s nursery I am going balls to the wall(paper) and planning to put this fabulous Laura Ashley paper above the chair rail. It may be my last girl nursery (or nursery ever for that matter with how hot and huge I feel with this pregnancy) so it’s going to be super girly and I’m pumped!
I’d like to do wallpaper in at least one other room of the house. Thinking the powder room, maybe? I’m considering the removable kind so if I get tired of it I can take it down easily. There are so many great and affordable options out there now – especially on Etsy.
We’ve decided we are definitely going to brick one of the walls in the kitchen to add some texture. Michael and I both love exposed brick, but unfortunately, there was no brick in the house to “expose” so we’re just going to create our own. The fireplace is on the list to get some more brick somehow, we just have to figure out the best way to do it. Ideally, we’d like to continue it to the ceiling to add height and a focal point.
We are also going to wrap the beam in the center of the living space in wood to match the floors. I feel like it’ll help anchor the room while also adding some charm. We gave ourselves a pep talk last weekend about being sure we continue to incorporate these little pieces of character even if the budget is being squeezed to death. There’s no sense in putting all these resources into a remodel just to make it an “it’s ok” place to live. It needs to be special, darn it!
Probably the biggest overall improvement to the house this week is that two of the antique doors we purchased have been installed! One is on the front of the house and enters what I’m referring to as our mudroom (it’s tiny, but we’re going to make it work for that purpose) and the other exits to the backyard from the kitchen. It’s probably the first thing that’s been installed in the house that I’ve actually picked out and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!! I know they’re just doors, but they are both really unique and have a story. They still have to be painted, but you can get a visual at least.
The front double doors are up next and that is really what I’m really anxious to see! Listen for my excited screams over the next few days. I’m sure you’ll be able to hear them across the state.
The two most common questions we hear these days are:
Answer to both: UNKNOWN.
It’s really funny how many times I answer both questions (back-to-back) each day, so maybe I should just make a sign to wear around my neck.
I feel pretty guilty that we talk about the house more than we talk about the baby. One day, I’ll hit 8 months and appropriately freak out, but until then - we have remodel decisions to make!
The last few weeks have been seriously transformational! The thing that makes the biggest difference is seeing Sheetrock on the walls which makes the house look like it actually has rooms again and ironically makes everything look bigger than when it was down to the studs.
The builders called this morning at 7:00 am to make sure the ceilings were going to be white so they could put a coat of paint on them today. Progress is so much fun!!
Speaking of white – pretty sure I want to paint all the walls in the house “white” with the exception of the bedrooms and bathrooms. There’s also a lovely chair rail that runs pretty much throughout the entire house that will (I’m assuming?) be the same color as the trim. If you’ve ever walked into a paint store and said, “I want white paint,” and walked out with it, I need to know what paint store you’ve been to.
When I went they said, “Well, there are several options of white” and took me to the swatches where I collected no less than 750 different shades of “white” and have been pouring over them ever since. Some whites are too yellow, others too blue, one that I think we’ll use for Alice’s bedroom is straight up PINK, but it’s called “Intimate White.” I also read a horror story online about white paint that turns yellow over time. Ok…
So – anyone out there had success with painting walls and trim WHITE?! Please tell me!
Another paint challenge has been the exterior and because this is a safe place, I’ll admit: I still don’t know if I like the colors we chose. Paint is up and although it looks way better than before, I just can’t envision the big picture with all the new windows installed/painted, doors/shutters hung, landscaping settled (haha – yeah right, landscaping is on the books for 2025 now). So I just can’t commit to my feelings or especially the word love just yet.
(It’s that brick, y’all. I’M SORRY - I just don’t. love. it. But I hope I eat those words once everything comes together. Truly, I do.)
Apart from paint colors which I will battle until my dying day, making sure everything is laid out perfectly so you can cook and hang out in the kitchen still remains our biggest challenge. On paper and with everything gutted, the kitchen looked HUGE. But last Saturday we cut Sheetrock to the specs of the cabinets, appliances and island and physically laid them on the ground. Suddenly, it felt a lot tighter than we anticipated so we had to compromise by scaling back the island a bit so people can actually walk around it.
Michael worked on getting all the old metal shelving out of the garage so those windows could be accessed and replaced, and that made a big difference. I’ve NEVER had a garage before and couldn’t be more excited about parking inside – especially with two babies! #WINNING. And the fact that it’s a two car garage is such a bonus. Michael has a significant collection of “supplies” for his various hobbies (hunting, biking, boating, etc.) so I have a feeling I may be parking beside boats and decoys instead of Michael’s truck on a regular basis.
We have been talking about building an outdoor garage – some day, some day maybe – with the piles of brick we inherited with the house. Definitely a few years down the road kind of project, but sure would be nice!
You may have guessed by our radio silence that things have been a little slow-going over at Reno 1432 for the past few weeks. Electrical and plumbing work has taken a lot longer than we anticipated and now we’re waiting on the inspector to come make sure everything’s up to code before the carpenters can get back to work hanging sheetrock and piecing things together.
It’s hard to watch things come to such a halt, but I’ve gotten pretty spoiled over the last 30 years by indoor plumbing and electricity so I can be patient.
While the inside hasn’t seen much visual progress, several things have moved along on the exterior. Like the house was pressure washed for the first time probably since I was born. New fascia was installed on the front of the house because it was actually cheaper to do that than to fix what was already there, and the rest of the trim is primed and ready for paint. The new (to us) exterior antique doors that we picked out a few weeks ago are prepped so we were able to pick those up and deliver them to be painted/stained and have new glass installed. The HVAC unit has been moved from right under where the new door from the kitchen to the backyard is going which meant duct work, too. The back patio’s ceiling is being repaired annnd, you guessed it, Michael spent more time clearing the backyard.
When I write it all down, it doesn’t seem like a lot compared to when things were really moving and shaking during the demo phase. But I think this is just the calm before the storm and if I’m honest I worry we still may not have battened down the hatches enough just yet…
You may have gathered than I’m a planner. I like organization and spreadsheets…a lot. I take notes and make checklists for everything or else, let’s be real, I wouldn’t remember what day it is. I was like this before I was a mom and now there is…“pregnancy brain.”
I know you mamas out there feel me when I say that making a human tends to drain your abilities significantly. I’ll never forget when I was in my third-trimester with Alice and I drove to Walmart, sat in the parking lot for 10 minutes trying to remember why I was there and then decided to just leave because I couldn’t face actually going inside. Or trying to bring up simple words. Like…chair. Example: “I’m going to sit down in this…um…hm, what’s this thing called…uhhhh….it’s a…oh well, wonder if we have any ice cream?” This is not an exaggeration.
I used to secretly judge my friends who had children before me. I thought, they’re just weak and using pregnancy as an excuse to be lazy. This is my formal apology to all of you. Pregnancy brain (or “mom brain” in general) is a thing, a real thing and turns the most competent of us into people who might just stare blankly after you’ve asked us a question because that day we can’t seem to understand English, our first language.
For that reason, I make lists for the simplest of tasks or I might show up to work without my pants on.
So when I say I’m afraid we aren’t ready for the impending storm, what I mean is – EEEK WE HAVE NO CHECKLIST!! There are far too many moving parts when you’ve gutted an entire house to keep up without a good system. Siding, trim, doors, windows, flooring, sinks, faucets, handles, knobs, molding, stain, lighting, cabinets, counter tops, appliances, tile, cables, wires, outlets, switches, a thousand paint colors – and that doesn’t even touch on the decorating and furniture. I need a checklist.
Really, I need an entire handbook. Like pages of instructions, suggestions and worksheets we can fill out and have ready for those phone calls when they need your answer in .4 seconds or else the crew has to go home for the day. I’m sure if you had it in your budget this is one of the big reasons you hire a professional designer. But we’re in a battle for hardwood and new toilets here, and professional design services are just not in our future.
Google has produced some almost-but-not-quite-what-I’m-looking-for results. The best I found are these spreadsheets which I think I can tweak to work for our purposes. I’ll definitely share the new version if I happen to find time to do that so if you’re a Type A weirdo like me and start a home remodel you can have your checklist ready to go!
Just don’t blame me when all the men around you (including your husband) start referring to you behind your back as Renozilla.
Another week down – I can’t believe it!
I feel like we didn’t spend as much time at the house last week as the week before. Which is probably a good thing. A little distance never hurt anyone. We spent 4 nights at VBS which was fun, but left us totally exhausted to even talk about the house much less visit very much.
Of course I say we weren’t there a lot, but Michael spent a good chunk of the weekend clearing more trees and brush. The yard keeps growing every time he spends a few hours there which is so exciting! One thing on our “must list” was a big front and back yard and we got ‘em both! 'm so eager for the day when I can just let our dogs out the back door and not have to worry about them bothering the neighbors or running into the street. And I seriously CAN NOT WAIT to have a space to entertain outdoors and to play! There are two amazing pergolas in the backyard that are in great shape once we pulled all the growth away. One has a swing that’s a little rickety and the other is just open space underneath. So pumped about that potential!
I always wanted a tree house growing up and so did Michael, so we’re considering one for Alice and Baby Sister. Of course now that I’m a paranoid mom, it will be approximately 6 inches off the ground…but that’s still cool, right? Also on the list is a garden. Our last home was in a neighborhood covered with trees (which we really did love) but didn’t bode so well for growing things sans sunlight. But we have proof in Mr. E’s leftover kale garden that it is possible!
We also have a pecan tree, walnut tree, fig tree, ornamental pear tree and a young paw-paw tree (hahaha!) in the backyard. I’ve only eaten a paw-paw once in my life from a roadside stand in Mexico, but we’re going to give that baby a chance. Any tips on maintenance of said paw-paw tree please throw them at us and we’ll bring you the first basket of fruit!
Also – all these decisions are getting serious. They really happen when you make them! We were at the house going over some plans for the kitchen and decided to open up all the doorways as high as they would go. While I was standing there they asked me a question about the door into the kitchen, I said, “I think we should go all the way to the ceiling?” and before I turned around they had the saw going full speed and that header was GONE! I’m not used to things happening quite that quickly so it was gratifying – and terrifying.
With both Michael and I working full-time, it’s hard to keep tabs on every decision and stay ahead of the curve. We talked this weekend about how a lot of people don’t accept responsibility for the construction timeline when they’re remodeling or building. A lot of delays last week were our fault because we simply didn’t have our minds made up – like about the exact fitting that would need to go with the clawfoot tub faucet or the size for the new window in the master bath. We're trying to preserve and add character to the house along the way and sometimes that’s sacrificed when you’re rushed with decisions.
So, we made a pact this weekend to do better at preempting those decisions so we can help the project along instead of hindering it and everything will turn out just like we are envisioning.
We drew out exactly how we want the back porch to look and function. Eventually we’d like to screen in the brick patio on the back of the house and have a wooden porch wrap around it for grilling, etc. But for now, we’re just adding a small part of the porch to the side of the patio so when you step out of the new door from the kitchen you don’t fall on the ground. They started on it today.
We also decided on what type of windows to put in the master bath and over the kitchen. The style of the house is very traditional, which I’ve already said is borderline our style. We lean more toward Old English Industrial Revolution instead of Southern 1970’s traditional and one of the ways we wanted to bring in more of that character was by having diamond-paned leaded glass in some key windows. Well, turns out, that’s hard to find. And pretty pricey when you do. So in discovery mode on my phone in the wee hours of Monday morning when I couldn’t sleep, I ran across regular wood-paned diamond windows which I think is a perfect blend of the old and new we are going for! As we say in the South, every once and a while a blind squirrel finds a nut.
The carpenters are sort of at a standstill because they’re waiting on the window replacements and the doors for the exterior and at the mercy of the electrician and the plumber on the interior. The plumber is close (especially now that we got him the part he needed for the tub!) and the electrician wired the master bath last week and is coming back next week to finish up.
Luckily, the house got a bath today and looks 1,000 times better so they can get back to working on some of the trim and the things that can be buttoned up on the exterior. I’ve learned lots can happen in just a few days’ time, so it could shape up to be a busy week ahead!
About the author:
Andrea is an Alabama girl with a love for travel, tea and books. She is mommy to daughters, Alice and Eleanor, and wife to Michael. Together they are tackling a fixer-upper to make it their home for years to come.