How to make your walls look two feet taller

In our house the walls are standard height, so I’m constantly looking for ways to visually elongate them in hopes that when friends come to visit they remark on our high ceilings. It’s only happened once, but I’m employing every trick I’ve got to make it a recurring comment.

In our guest bedroom, (lots of details here, here and here), I found the magic combination:

  1. Paint your baseboards and crown molding the same color as your walls. You’re visually extending the wall by several inches on both the top and bottom, space which is ordinarily white, instantly tricking your eye into thinking the walls are 8-12 inches taller than normal walls.
  2. Add picture frame molding in conjunction with a chair rail. Make sure that the boxes above the chair rail are much taller than those below the chair rail. Here, you’re drawing the eye up, way higher than you’d ordinarily look and creating dimension and contrast well above your eye level.
  3. Paint your doorframes and window trim the same color to keep from breaking up the height.

There are other tricks out there, including painting your ceiling the same color as your walls that absolutely work (I used that trick in my bathroom refresh), but so far, nothing has been quite as dramatic as the above combination.

And in case you don’t believe me, here’s a before and after:

BEFORE

um5a7563

 

AFTER (Still in progress, ignore the totally messy closet, headboard still in plastic, and yes, we ripped out that built-in)

UM5A2123.jpg

In person, we can’t stop looking up when standing in the room because it feels like we boosted the ceiling by several feet. I’m obsessed with the effect and can’t wait to replicate the same approach in the other upstairs rooms. Also, the trim work is not that hard to do and makes your space feel so custom and dimensional – it’s a total win-win.

And because our room is just one of many that’s used this magic combo, some of my favourites from the web:

 photo ce8c93ba9357513d11fac1587fcopy.jpg

Kelly Wearstler

pale blue fabrics atlanta homes mag

Suzanne Kasler in Atlanta Homes

 

 

Patio Inspiration

One of the selling points when we purchased our house was the deck space: there are two sizable patios. One patio is grey stone and very large, situated off our pantry and kitchen. The other patio is wood and elevated, located off the sunroom, and gets the best, most even light.

For the stone patio, we’ve added a barbecue and intend to add a dining table and seating area. On the back patio, I’d like to add some chaise lounges for soaking up that summer sun.

I’ve been busy sourcing furniture, and frankly, have been shocked at the expense of seasonal furniture. So far, Craigslist has unearthed few options, but I’m not giving up too easily. I want both spaces to be tied together by black, white, grey and wood – much like our interiors spaces. I’d love to incorporate some vintage pieces to bring in some character and chic textiles, along with twinkle lights and lots of candles.

Here’s some of the inspiration photos I keep coming back to ogle:

An outdoor project by Pencil and Paper Co. – Love, love, love that wood + white with a pop of blue. That wood table with white metal chairs is such a great combination.

 

Another project I’ve loved for a long time is Kristin from Hunted Interior’s back deck. The black and white striped outdoor drapery, verner panton chairs and wood table are fantastic.

aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkY0LmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbSUyRi1PTW1zcjZybDlMMCUyRlY1c3RHS1RTSXZJJTJGQUFBQUFBQUE1NTAlMkZuSHZzanVRd282OFd0QWUweWtBaGpiOUQ0UmxFOWM0V3dDTGNCJTJGczE2MDAlMkZQYXRpbyUyQkJhciUyQkhPcml6b250YWwuanBn.jpeg

aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkYzLmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbSUyRi1lZXdOaFNFRy1rdyUyRlY1czVlRU5QZVhJJTJGQUFBQUFBQUE1NjAlMkZSSjh4d2lEeTgxUWhyTGdQSHBxd2R1MXBoMkhnQ1ZIVFFDTGNCJTJGczE2MDAlMkZQYXRpbyUyQk92ZXJhbGwlMkJsbyUyQnJlc19lZGl0ZWQtMS5qcGc=.jpeg

It’s going to take me some time to source all the furniture, but I can’t wait to have a deck space we can enjoy all spring, summer and early fall.

 

 

The Guest Bedroom: Design Plan

The guest bedroom is the room we’ve started twice and have yet to finish (for various legitimate reasons). But, over the past two weeks we’ve made some big progress:

  • roughed out holes in the walls and ceiling for two sconces and an overhead light
  • we (but really, cory) figured out the electrical for the three new light fixtures
  • picked up a serge mouille reproduction ceiling light off craigslist
  • ordered curtains (these from west elm)
  • decided on paint colors
  • we painted the ceiling
  • planned out the picture frame moulding
  • replaced the existing closet door with a narrower door to create more wall space for the bed

All of the above things made it look like we were creating a lot of mess in the room and not so much positive progress. BUT, today we cleared out the room for the painting and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

On to the design plan. The vibe is crisp, chic and eclectic retreat. I want this room to feel like a getaway, with a mix of vintage and modern pieces, crisp linens and an enveloping feel. The textiles and layers should feel collected and surprisingly cohesive.

I’ve ordered a good deal of these pieces but there are some that will take longer for me to source and may change by the time they make it into the room (e.g. that tiki ocean dresser is a bit of a pipe dream that I will probably spend months hunting down and still maybe not find it for less than $3k). Regardless, I’m SO excited about the direction of this room and can’t wait to see it become real. Our deadline for this room is June 1st, so we’ve got to keep cranking on it.

GUEST-BEDROOM-DESIGN-PLAN.jpg

 

What we still have left to do:

  • Sand and refinish the 2″x 8″ strip of wood floor that was under the old built-ins
  • Patch a few holes in the drywall
  • Paint the walls
  • Paint and install crown moulding, baseboard trim and picture frame moulding
  • Install the light fixtures
  • Build the bed (we have a headboard and need to build the rest of the frame)
  • Source very narrow nightstands (waiting until we have the bed in to make a final call)
  • Hang the curtains
  • Build a radiator box
  • Source a dresser, armchair, a rug and accessories

And that’s it. It’s a lot, but it’s manageable and everything we have left to do will make the room look incrementally better, unlike our past more destructive projects.

 

Updating the Kitchen

When we first walked this house, I was a bit disappointed that the kitchen had been remodeled and aesthetically wasn’t quite us. But, since we’ve moved in and made some cosmetic updates to the kitchen, I’m feeling a lot more content with the space.

We started off by swapping out the pendant lights for a fresher design mixed with ceiling medallions that bring character to the space (I wrote about that over here).

Next up was painting the walls the same Benjamin Moore Paper White as we went with in the living room. We’re planning on taking down the wall between the kitchen and dining room this spring, so I didn’t want to have to repaint when the spaces are joined.

We swapped in new, bright white electrical outlets, switches and dimmers throughout the space. And replaced the old school recessed can lights with more modern and less intrusive LED retrofit recessed lighting throughout. And then we hung a vintage mirror I found on Craigslist before we even moved into the house, which we spray painted glossy white, in place of the mirror that was originally hanging on the wall. The mirror really helps to open up the space visually, so bringing in one that was more reflective of our style was critical.

All in all, the updates make me grateful for a modern kitchen with relatively new appliances. At our recent housewarming party, I was curious to see where guests would cluster, and surprising to no one, the kitchen was the hub. It definitely got tight along the peninsula, so I’m certain that taking down the wall is going to open up the space tremendously, both in terms of light and flow through the space when we’re entertaining.

Beyond what we’ve done, I’m considering swapping in new handles and door hardware, but not entirely certain it’s necessary. I’m also noodling on whether to paint all the mullions in our house the same black as our interior doors, because few things scream high-style to me than black windows.

The next project I want to tackle in here is whitewashing or German smearing the not so pretty stone tiles. The tilework is relatively well-done and if it was the only thing I wasn’t feeling in the kitchen, I’d rip them up and replace them with something lighter, like a herringbone subway tile, but since there are a lot of future changes in here and a lot of other projects going on, it doesn’t seem like it’s worth the effort.

UM5A1437.jpgUM5A0152.jpgUM5A1446.jpg

Currently contemplating: black windows

Our house is pretty traditional aesthetically, but I would consider my style to veer more towards the edgy, glamorous side than to classic traditional, so I’ve been trying to toe the line and keep my bolder inclinations in check. Every day, I contemplate painting my window mullions black, because there honestly isn’t anything more chic than black windows (in my humble opinion).

I’ve gotten the go ahead from Cory to paint them black if I want, but I’m still a bit hesitant about how it’s going to look. So I’ve pulled my favourite rooms that feature black mullions:

Kitchen With White Cabinets, Black Paned Windows and Hardwood Floors

Source: Carter Kay, HGTV

Source: Honestly WTF

Source: The Design Co.

And I did a little photoshop magic to see how it would look in the dining room, and I’m totally digging the contrast. Next up would be adding some roman shades – maybe bamboo or maybe linen? And those brass chairs are dying for new upholstery.

UM5A0893-Edit.jpg

Crushing on herringbone floors

We’re not quite ready to overhaul the floors in our house, but it’s definitely a future upgrade. I can’t help myself from obsessing over herringbone wood floors. While I recognize that it’s become a bit trendy, the pattern is so classic, reminding me of old-world Paris. My love affair with herringbone actually began a decade ago when my parents gutted their house and laid herringbone stones in their entryway – ever since I’ve been smitten.

Currently, I’m dreaming about laying white oak herringbone throughout our living room, dining room and soon to be open concept kitchen, with standard white oak planks laid in the front hallway and continuing upstairs. That being said, there are a ton of factors at play, with cost being a huge driver. But, I can’t help dreaming about bringing these classically chic floors into my home.

First up is Emily Henderson’s new kitchen, which features the exact floors I’m pining for in our house.

Emily-Henderson_Frigidaire_Kitchen-Reveal_Waverly_English-Modern_Edited-Beams_6-1024x1419@2x.jpg

This new build hallway by Cuisimano Architects is just amazing.

white-brick-hallway-arched-windows-carriage-wall-lanterns.jpg

These floors give me all the feels, as seen in Domino Magazine.

main.original.640x0c.jpg

The floors in Danielle Moss’s new kitchen is swoonworthy.

Sunroom Status

It’s taken longer than planned, but we’re finally making some tangible strides in the sunroom. As a quick recap – the sunroom had served as our interim storage room since we moved in, where the long narrow space and gross beige carpeting was doing the room no favours. We painted the wood paneled walls bright white, as well as all the trim, ripped up the carpet and replaced it with inexpensive vinyl tiles. Long-term, I’m still on the fence about the best way forward with this room, but until we redo the flooring on the main floor of the house, we wanted to make sure we got ample use this space. As mentioned previously, I’m trying to weigh the economics of vaulting the room in the sunroom and widening the opening against taking down the wall between the sunroom and living room / dining room entirely. There are a ton of factors at play, so instead we’re focusing on the short term.

Over the weekend, we installed baseboards, which gives the room a much more polished feel than before. Cory decided that the basic door trim wasn’t hacking it and tore it out to make way for decorative trim that matched the other doorways in the house. He also filled in the holes for the hinges from when a door formerly hung in the doorway. We still have one more door to sort out, but that’s going on the back burner until the spring. Long story short, we have a sliding door that leads to our back deck that has a faulty seal. To keep the room warm over the winter, we’ve sealed the door with plastic, but have plans to replace the door with a French door once spring arrives. I personally am not a fan of sliding doors, so removing the door will make me very happy and should increase the likelihood of us using this deck (I know that sounds absurd, but we’re spoiled with having a huge stone patio on the other side of the house… don’t hate us. I can promise you there are other things this house doesn’t have, like a tub with enough depth for a bath, for one). Anyway, getting back to the matters at hand.

UM5A0693.jpg

UM5A0695.jpg

UM5A0817.jpg

Cory and I have sat down a dozen times to sketch up the plans for the window seat (over dinner, at the bar, while on the train…), where I have a vision for the aesthetics of the seat and he’s also working out the most efficient way to funnel the heat from the radiator into the room from the interior of the window seat. He also figured out how we can install an outlet behind the seat to power two plug in library sconces, so I’m sourcing those this week.

We’re about halfway through painting the million windows in the room bright white, and already they’re looking much better. Apparently Anderson Windows’ version of white is called Alabaster, and it’s not white but a dirty looking cream colour, so paint is a must in here. I debated painting the mullions of the windows black, as I have planned in the rest of the house, but these double paned windows have inset millens that are white, so it wasn’t an option.

On the decor front, we sourced a rattan chair off Craigslist with a cushion in dire need of reupholstering, so I’m ordering a bunch of fabric samples for the chair, plus pillows and the window seat cushion. All in all, there’s a ton of sewing in our future.

On Sunday, we moved all the furniture that’s staying in the room back into the space and found new homes for all the stuff that formerly lived in the sunroom in its former state as a storage unit. I feel like we can finally relax again now that we’ve reclaimed our main floor.

UM5A0809.jpg

UM5A0812.jpg

Looking back on what’s still remaining on the to-do list:

  • Finish installing the edge tiles (two of the boxes of black tiles that we received had bent corners, so they need to be exchanged)
  • Install baseboards
  • Paint the radiator covers
  • Finish painting the windows
  • Order and install new flushmount ceiling fixtures
  • Swap out the outlet covers
  • Build a radiator window seat and sew a matching cushion (more details forthcoming on this)
  • And then it’s decor: source a rattan hanging chair, two rugs, hang some art
  • Eventually we want to replace the sliding door, with a much more attractive French Door, but that won’t be until the spring

Sunroom Progress

Picking up where we last left off, work on our sunroom is now underway. Over the weekend, we painted the ceiling, trim and walls Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White – the ceiling went flat, the walls matte and the trim semi-gloss. Previously the walls were beige with white trim, and given that the room has so much going on with the wall of windows, trim and recessions between wood panels, I wanted to minimize the contrast to trick everyone visually that our ceilings aren’t as low as they actually are in here. Shh, just forget I said that when you look at the photos 😉

On move-in day:

um5a7542

Before painting (we drop-clothed the Milo Baughman etagere because it takes up so much space, but it’s now disassembled in our dining room):

UM5A9719.jpg

UM5A9712.jpg

UM5A9723.jpg

UM5A9731.jpg

UM5A9742.jpg

 

Painting wasn’t as simple as I had expected, we had to pull out the caulk and dried paint between all the wood panels, re-caulk them and strip the paint and caulk from the windows, since it was in awful shape. Then, even though the wood had been primed and painted previously, I found that the paint was seeping into the wood a bit, so we needed two coats, more than our standard one with Benjamin Moore Regal paint.

We also ripped out the institutional-looking radiator cover that reminds me of elementary school, in a bad way. Of course the radiator was inserted into the wall, so we’re going to have to cover up that hole in the wall with wood. A built in window bench will go in front of most of that gaping hole.

UM5A9924.jpgUM5A9922.jpg

 

 

UM5A9919.jpg

UM5A9918.jpg

 

Then, we ripped up the carpeting, pulled up all the staples in the carpeting membrane and then discovered some of the ugliest tiles we’ve ever laid eyes on. They provided a pretty good base though, for our peel and stick vinyl tiles. This is where the biggest debate happened – what pattern to lay the tiles in. Originally, inspired by Brady Tolbert’s kitchen I’d planned on the diamond pattern, then, I thought it might look busy, so I opted for a stripe, but once we had them layed out on the floor, a few things made the decision for us. These tiles are super cheap (which is what makes them a great temporary solution, until we do the hardwoods throughout the house), but that also means they don’t line up perfectly and the colour and texture varied a lot. I was worried that the stripes wouldn’t be perfect enough for me, where the diamond pattern is more foregiving. Also, once they were laid out, the diamonds just looked more dynamic.

I know they look bold, and they are, but once we have some textured neutral rugs in here and a hanging rattan chair and lots of natural, organic fabrics, they won’t be nearly as aggressive.

UM5A9955.jpg

The diamonds were hard to photograph on a sunny day, since this room is crazy bright and their finish is high gloss, but rest assured we love them in the space.

There’s still a lot left to do in this space, but we’re really rushing to get it to a place where we can move furniture back in here and then slowly work through the rest of the projects.

The project list:

  • Finish installing the edge tiles (two of the boxes of black tiles that we received had bent corners, so they need to be exchanged)
  • Install baseboards
  • Paint the radiator covers
  • Finish painting the windows
  • Order and install new flushmount ceiling fixtures
  • Swap out the outlet covers
  • Build a radiator window seat and sew a matching cushion (more details forthcoming on this)
  • And then it’s decor: source a rattan hanging chair, two rugs, hang some art
  • Eventually we want to replace the sliding door, with a much more attractive French Door, but that won’t be until the spring

Wish us luck!

Projects on deck for 2017

Now that we’re feeling pretty settled in our house, and we’ve been here officially four months, I wanted to lay out the projects we’re prioritizing for the rest of the year. We may not get to everything, and our priorities may shift, but I do want to set some goals:

1. Finish the guest bedroom

We have a June deadline for this room (promised my mom and dad they’d have somewhere to sleep when they’re in town) and BIG plans that I can’t wait to share. I know we naively started the One Room Challenge on this room just after moving, but there was just no way we could prioritize the room in the way that we needed to. So alas, it’s at the top of the list for real this time.

2. The sunroom (phase 1)

I shared my inspiration for this space earlier this month. We’re making some temporary updates so the room can be functional space for us until we decide structurally what we’re doing with the space.

3. The guest bathroom

I did a quick lite makeover of this room before our housewarming party, but we have plans to gut the entire space to make a modern and fresh bathroom that makes us excited to have friends and family stay over

4. Replacing the main beam

This is a boring but necessary one. We have a wooden main beam that spans under the original part of the house (entryway, kitchen, entry seating area) that is totally stable and was to code when the house was built in 1940 but is no longer up to today’s standards. So we’re planning on upgrading to a steel beam and replacing the joists so that we have a 100% solid foundation for the future. I’m a firm believer in making sure the foundation and base is solid to ensure all the future work we do can be perfect and last indefinitely.

5. Designing our outdoor patio

This house is blessed with two outdoor decks/patios and one of the things that attracted us to our town is the coastal, outdoor vibe. So we’re so excited to have a very large and recently installed stone patio to use daily during the summer. Out here, we’re going to be putting in a barbecue, a dining area and a seating area.

6. Miscellaneous projects

Widening the doorway from the front hallway to the living room, hanging window coverings, painting the windows, upgrading our exterior lighting, recovering our brass dining chairs, creating a storage solution for our coat closet, fencing off the propane tank in our backyard, etc.

And on the ‘if we get to it list’ (but likely the 2018 project list)

7. Creating a master suite

Our bedroom is huge and is one of the only houses we looked at that had both a master bath and walk in closet. We know we need to gut both spaces to create a much more functional bathroom with a double vanity, stand up shower and fingers-crossed, a soaker tub, in addition to a more functional and organized closet. The challenge for us is nailing the right floor plan, since we can steal some space from the oversized bedroom. We know that if we ever want to sell the house, this is going to be a major selling point and we should want to maximize it as much as possible and that’s contingent on a really effective floor plan.

8. Decorating my office

This shouldn’t be too hard, just painting the walls, figuring out a floor plan that works and swapping out hardware. This could happen in 2017, but isn’t a top priority.

9. The laundry room

We have a small laundry room tucked off our built in pantry but I was horrified to discover that the room isn’t insulated. So like we try to set foot in there as little as possible and end up hauling the clean clothes through the kitchen and into the living room  in order to fold them. Not ideal. Getting this room warm (or at the very least less cold) and looking chic would make me very happy.

Wish us luck! Can’t wait to see how much of this list we can accomplish over the next 11 months.

Eclectic Black & White Bathroom: Before & After

And just like that, the first room in our house is done. Well, at least for now. Backing it up, as I wrote about previously, this bathroom is on our main floor and is the one most frequently used by guests, so I wanted it to make a strong impression that was true to our style.

We started out with a slightly sad butter yellow room with dingy board and batten, an old builder grade vanity, mirror and light fixtures. I have a whole post dedicated to the before photos over here, but I’m sharing a few here to set the tone.

um5a9985-2um5a9989-2um5a9999-2um5a0009um5a9988-2

And then I set forth the design plan, which leaned heavily on high contrast black walls with white board and batten, a warm brass mirror and faucet and a high-gloss black vanity. I also incorporated some natural materials, like a bamboo wastebasket and wood tray to bring warmth and character to the space.

Looking at the design plan, I’d say that the final room definitely stayed true to the plan.

bathroomdesignboard.gif

A few small things that changed: I ended up going with a slightly different Schoolhouse Electric sconce with an articulating arm in order to amp up the drama and make the most of the vertical space visually.

And here are the after photos.

UM5A9849-3.jpg

UM5A9796-Edit.jpg

um5a9801um5a9803um5a9767-2um5a9804-2

um5a9813um5a9815um5a9816um5a9821um5a9835um5a9843-2um5a9841um5a9838-2um5a9837um5a9852um5a9856um5a9862um5a9866

um5a9876um5a9879-2um5a9871um5a9883

um5a9863

So. Much. Better.

I’m going to do a full post on the faux Roman shades, because they were definitely an exercise in nailing the look I wanted in a creative way without spending nearly as much as I should have for a Roman shade in a stunning designer fabric.

I also wanted to speak to the black walls – they’re dramatic and totally unexpected, and I’m completely obsessed with them. But, we definitely get less light into the room now with fewer reflective surfaces. It doesn’t bother me at all, because this is a bathroom, not a space we’re constantly using, but I do think I would hesitate to go super dark in a frequently used space in the house in the future.

And the sources:

Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Black Magic in Semi Gloss

Trim Paint: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White in Semi Gloss

Vanity Paint: Benjamin Moore Advance in Black

Lucite Vanity Knobs: Etsy

Brass Sconce: Schoolhouse Electric

Brass Mirror: Restoration Hardware (found at the outlet)

Brass Faucet: Harrison Brassworks (sourced off Craigslist)

Towel Ring: Vintage

Monogrammed Hand Towel: Pottery Barn

Persian Rug: Vintage from my fave rug shop on ebay

Flushmount Light Fixture: Pottery Barn

Brass Toilet Flush: Amazon

Wastebasket: Homegoods

Art Print: Mai Autumn

Frame: Framebridge

Toilet Paper Holder: Anthropologie

Shower Curtain Rod: Overstock

Shower Curtain Rings: Homegoods

Shower Curtain: Pottery Barn

Roman Shade Fabric: Schumacher Zimba in Charcoal

It’s funny, in looking over the list of sources, I realize a lot of pieces came from Pottery Barn. And yet, to me, this room doesn’t look like Pottery Barn. It’s a nice reminder of how you can make individual pieces your own in a space that mixes and matches both new and vintage and different retail shops. It’s ALL about the mix to make a style feel unique to your style and like it represents your own personality.