Our remodeling saga started the first week we owned our house, even though the first part of this series started with the outside. When we bought our house, every piece of molding, all the wood, doors, ceilings, cupboards, and floors (the ones that were wood, anyway), were stained DARK walnut and the walls were all a dull yellow. Living in Oregon, which is often gray, I did not feel cozy with all that dark, I just felt claustrophobic with dark ceilings bearing down on me. Plus, with no white to reflect light, you needed lights on even in the brightest summer sun.
This is nothing against those who like wood. Men, especially, seem to think wood is sacred and should never be painted. I have no clue why. I heard that the people we bought our house from were horrified that we painted everything. If you feel this way about wood, you may want to turn away, because we painted almost everything!
Our house originally consisted of one large living area with an entry, dining room and kitchen separated by a half wall from the living room (which is also a step down), in addition to the bedrooms (see Part 4 & Part 5 of this series to see how we expanded). In the above shot you see the entry area and some of the living room.
Here’s what we remodeled in the entry:
- Sprayed everything creamy white.
- Left the wood top of the half-wall unpainted for contrast and to hide fingerprints and dust.
- Replaced the dated brass entry doorknob with an oil-rubbed bronze knob.
- Replaced the dated 70s entry hanging light with a vintage fixture from the 1930s.
- Removed a long shelf running the length of the wall to the right (dust, anyone?) – you can see the outline where they had painted around it, as well as an outlet the shelf had been hiding for the doorbell that we hid with a wall plaque in the after shot.
The Living Room
Note: most of our before pictures were with the previous owners furniture and decor still in the house, just in case you wonder…
The first week we owned the house, we farmed the kids out and lived in our vintage trailer for a week while we taped and sprayed the walls and woodwork white.
The simple updates to the living room included:
- Spraying everything creamy white, of course.
- Deciding to leave the brick fireplace surround unpainted because it wasn’t too dark or orange (and we were planning to use the insert to help heat the house – a big black insert against white brick didn’t seem the best course of action).
- Removing a long shelf that ran along the top of the wood panelling.
- Decor note: I made three unstructured roman shades for the windows out of cotton painter’s drop cloths (same as the slipcover on the couch). They cost me about $25 total after adding the cost of the cording and other materials needed to make them.
The Dining Room
The before photo on the left is looking to the dining room from the entry. We painted this area, of course, but we also did a bit more remodeling to bring in light here (my main goal with the whole house).
Dining room updates:
- In addition to painting (isn’t that white wood ceiling spectacular now, bouncing light everywhere?), we replaced the light fixture (that looked like something from a saloon) with the $10 vintage chandelier we brought from our old house which is special to us because we found it when we were first married before we even had a house and have carried it with us since.
- We had the single door and one window replaced with a pair of 6′ French doors at the same time as our garage remodel 6 months after moving in – and oh the light they let in – I LOVE these doors.
- Painting the cabinets on the dining side of the kitchen really brought out their molding and details.
After telling ourselves to get plenty of ‘before’ pictures of our house this time around, I’m pretty bummed that the top photo is the only before picture of the kitchen I can find – it hardly shows the kitchen at all (it does, however, show my stepdad Michael telling me we’re pretty much out of our minds to take on all we wanted to do. I remember telling him I’d keep at it even if it took me 5 years…um – I’m still at it, ha!).
Anyway, it’s enough to get the idea: the kitchen was dark, dark, dark and included dated orangey-tan tile. Perfect. Then came the paint: taping and spraying, taping and spraying – you’re getting the idea that this was our life for a whole week, right?
This first after shot of the kitchen looking from the dining room is similar to the before shot and gives you an idea of the dramatic difference white paint made to all the dark cabinetry. This is phase 1 of our eventual kitchen redo that will include new counters, backsplash and other upgrades, but it made a huge difference.
We were so thankful that we had good quality cabinets made out of solid wood with center panels, routing and crown moldings. It’s one of the reasons I knew the house would work for us and would look so good updated with paint.
Here are some of the low-cost things we did to bring the kitchen up to par without doing any major remodel:
- Like the rest of the house, we sprayed on gallons of primer & paint, though here we used a semi-gloss finish for the cabinets.
- Removed wallpaper & textured. There was wallpaper in the kitchen area (which stopped at the dining and living walls leaving a line of paper going down the wall) which was attached directly to the unfinished wallboard. When 22 year old wallpaper is attached directly to the wallboard, it doesn’t want to come off. And if it does, it will be in little, 1/2-inch wide strips – if you’re lucky. After removing the wallpaper, we needed to texture the area to match where it met the other, textured, walls. Thankfully, our friend Dan had done quite a bit of texturing and volunteered to help, since this was not something we were expecting to do.
- Replaced all the antique brass hinges with silver hinges.
- Replaced small ceramic knobs with glass knobs on the doors and silver bin pulls on the drawers.
- Bought a stainless steel refrigerator.
- Replaced both of the light fixtures with vintage finds off eBay.
- Removed the center panel of the doors on either side of the sink and replaced them with glass, as well as the four doors across the top of the bank of cabinets that I call our butler’s pantry (tongue-in-cheek), which I think made a huge difference in the look of these cabinets.
- Removed the under-sink doors and added a curtain as well as an IKEA kitchen tool hanger rod to the sink false drawer front to hang our towels from (and I love having towels so handy!).
Note: In the lower right photo, you can see the doorway that lead to the original garage and how it is now a hallway to our offices and laundry (see that remodel here).
As you can see, painting our great room white has made an incredible difference, one we enjoy every single day. The next installment of the remodeling series will take you through the before-and-afters of our bedrooms (which you can see here), so in anticipation of that, let’s take the hallway to the left of the entry to see what a difference white paint made to that long, dark space:
Pretty cool, huh? In addition to spraying the hallway walls and cupboards white we also:
- Replaced ALL the brass hinges with silver hinges.
- Replaced the small ceramic knobs with larger glass knobs.
- About a year later, we were able to pull the carpet out of the hallway and lay down oak flooring to match the entry/dining/kitchen oak floors. We found salvaged oak that actually matched our existing oak finish at a yard sale for only $60! Such a deal.
I love our light house now! Make sure to see the rest of the remodeling posts to see what a difference a bit (okay, a LOT), of paint can do: