Our intention for our new house was always to break down the wall dividing the living room, kitchen, and dining room. Because leveling the floors in our new house caused some cracking in that particular wall, we decided to go ahead and take the entire thing down rather than repair it. Our contractor also suggested squaring off the walls in the kitchen to make for a better layout (there was previously a curved wall which wasted quite a bit of space).
If you recall, this was the floor plan when we purchased the house (not to scale).
And this is the new floor plan after removing the wall (also not to scale). The dotted line is a kitchen island. Now that I’m looking at it, it’s actually more of a peninsula, isn’t it?
The space instantly felt bigger and brighter and it was amazing that one wall could make such a huge difference. For a while we thought we might need to add a post for structural support next to the kitchen peninsula, but in the end it was deemed unnecessary. #yay
Because leveling the floors required opening up and replacing some parts of the existing hardwood floor, we also took the opportunity to re-finish the floors in a medium-dark brown stain. (We also extended the hardwood floors into the kitchen after ripping up the vinyl tile.) Our contractor, Joe, advised us that painting the ceiling, walls, base boards, and trim should happen before the floors were done so that any paint spills or mistakes could be easily sanded away. Painting is about the only home project that Mr. S and I were comfortable DIY-ing, so we volunteered to do the work ourselves to save some cash (finally!). We ordered the paint through Joe to avail of a discount at Sherwin-Williams and he was nice enough to lend us all his painting supplies – rollers, brushes, paint trays, etc. What we couldn’t borrow from Joe, we borrowed from my dad.
It took me HOURS to select paint colors from the swatches Joe provided to us. For the new open concept living/dining room and kitchen, I wanted a neutral gray, but the million dollar question was which gray? This was like going through the torture of bridal whites all over again. There were so many grays, (one could argue that 75% of the swatches were some shade of gray) and yet they were all just a touch different – some were darker, some were lighter, some leaned purple or brown, and others leaned blue or green. Finally, after examining the swatch in several different lights, I settled on Requisite Gray (7023). To my eye it is gray with brown undertones, even swaying towards khaki in certain lights. We also used this color in the hallway connecting all the bedrooms. (All paint selections are Sherwin-Williams brand).
To complement Requisite Gray, I chose white Alabaster (7008) for the base boards, trim, ceilings, and doors and Mink (6004, a dark purple-y gray) for an accent wall in the living room where Mr. S will mount the biggest TV he can get his hands on. In retrospect, I could have been bolder with the accent wall color – during some parts of the day/night it just looks like a shadowed version of the Requisite Gray, but overall I’m happy with it.
For the guest room, I chose Quietude (6212) – a blue-green gray (let’s not kid ourselves, for all the time I spent hemming and hawing on the color swatches, the whole house is f*cking gray). This color exceeded my expectations once we got it on the walls and I’m actually quite in love with this room now (even unfurnished). None of my pictures do Quietude justice – it comes off much more as serene blue-green than dull gray…I hope…it does, it does.
I really wanted to do something daring and offbeat in the office like puke green or muted magenta, but Mr. S vetoed me on every non-neutral option I threw out to him. I guess he knows that if/when I tire of the puke green, he will be the one to do the manual labor of re-painting the room in my new color choice. In the end I compromised with Tony Taupe (7038), which I thought would look like coffee-with-a-splash-of-milk brown, but instead it’s more of brown-gray (again with the gray, everything is gray).
And finally, the master bedroom. Though he protested the trendy colors I wanted for the office, Mr. S was on board with my desire for a dark teal/blue bedroom. We chose Rainstorm (6230) and I love, love, love how it looks with our gold headboard.
I think we’ll fill the room with more gold and white accents, but then it might start looking like a shrine to our wedding colors, so I’m keeping an open mind as to what other furniture and accessories will end up in here.
Would you believe me if I told you that we painted our entire house in one weekend? Well, we did. Because we had to. Our timelines got mixed up and because the flooring guy was scheduled to start on a specific date, we had only one weekend to get all the painting done (taping, priming, first coat, second coat, touch ups, etc). We had some help from my dad and to say it was grueling is the understatement of the year (if I ever see another can of Alabaster white, I might vomit in it). But we are so happy with the end result that the endless hours of suffering we endured are long forgotten (I’m told that’s what childbirth is like too).
We are ultimately satisfied with how our floors turned out, but this whole process was a headache. We left this job to the professionals (sub-contracted out by Joe) and yet there was obvious streaking in certain places. We negotiated the cost down since even Joe agreed it was not well done. Our only other option was to have them re-do the floors, but they gave us no guarantee that the streaking would improve so we just left it and took the discount. Luckily after a few rounds of buffing and polyurethane, the streaks became less prominent, and as my mother pointed out, they’ll be virtually unnoticeable once the house is fully furnished. Lesson learned: not all home renovations have a fairy tale ending and sometimes you have to pick your battles.
To me, opening up the walls, staining the floors, and giving everything a fresh coat of paint in a more modern color palette (i.e., gray, gray, and gray) really updated the house from 1950* to 2015. And every time a project in our new home is completed to make it “ours,” I feel better and better (and even more excited) about saying goodbye to our NYC studio.
* When I told my parents that the deed indicated the house was built in 1969, they balked. From what Mr. and Mrs. STK (the previous and original owners) told them, there were no streets or other houses around them when they built their home – just woods. The closest neighbor was the equivalent of several blocks away (and required a trek through the woods to get there). Based on their calculations of when their house was built (late 1950s), my parents estimated that our house was built in the early 1950s or even 1940s. Why the deed states 1969, we don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with when the house was registered with the township (maybe the township was formed in 1969?). In any case, common sense tells us that our house is much older than what the official documents say.