Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"In a Fix" - the Living Room

Hi ya! How's your week going? I don't know about you, but I can't believe January is over. I have a feeling this year is going to just fly by! One thing I won't mind flying by is winter. I'm over it and ready for warm, sunny days! :) :) :)

This week, I want to share another installment of "In a Fix," which is my journey through fixing up my cottage here in Wilmington, NC. I decided I just couldn't stand the gray walls any longer and the ugly "hole in the wall" as I called it.

Here's what it looked like with the previous owners. Note: this photo was from the real estate listing and was altered. The walls look beige here, but they were actually grey. You'll see in my photographs.

Back in 2001 when our cottage was built, everyone still had those tube TV's and builders would add these openings for the TV's. You can see where the TV use to go in the middle of that opening. I'm not sure why the builder didn't make a nice cabinet at the bottom.  Also, the shelving up top was added by someone along the way. We are the 4th owners. It didn't match any of the other stuff and was sagging in the middle. In addition, the living area is wired for surround sound. See those those dark speakers up top. They are also in the dining room. The previous owners had a more modern style and this worked well for them.

One day, a few months ago, I got a "wild hare" and decided to rip all that stuff out. I was saving my pennies for a new, custom, real wood piece. I knew it would be a while, so I  put a bunny in there to occupy the space for a bit. hee,hee,hee.

 Now you can see the actual color of the walls. Amazing what photo editing can do to a picture eh?  I know everyone loves the gray, but I just can't handle it. It makes me sleepy and depressed and reminds me of my dentist office where I just spent 6 weeks in pain and agony. I don't need that reminder in my house.

The other thing that bothered me is that this is a small living room and I felt like the fireplace mantle was overwhelming the space. So we took the top piece of moulding off. In addition, we had the electrical boxes moved and plugged the makeshift holes the previous owner had made to hang the TV. Then it was time to start patching the walls.

This is David's brother, Mitchell. He came to visit us after Christmas. He is a master carpenter and such an incredible craftsman. He helped us do lots of repair work to the walls, trim, electrical etc. He can do everything!

There was a piece of dentil moulding in the dining room. I'm not a fan of this traditional moulding as it gathers lots of dust. Plus, I just thought it looked dorky on the wall there. So Mitchell and David removed it. You can see the other two speakers there as well. Ick.

It was so cool to see the original wall colors underneath the moulding. Ahhhh yes, burgundy and yellow. I betcha they hand hunter green furniture and a splash of azalea pink thrown in and, of course, some Laura Ashley fabrics. Mark my words, those colors will come back in style within the next ten years just like the gray (Hello 1982) came back in style. Just say'in.

So David patched and

patched and

patched some more.

Then the painting began. I'm using the same color throughout the entire house. It's Sherwin Williams Aged White with Extra White for the ceilings and trim. It's a soft cream color. Not too white, not too yellow, but right in the middle.

I saved enough pennies to have the custom piece made by Hollingsworth Cabinetry here in Wilmington. They are super busy because they work mainly for home builders. It took them 3 months to get this piece built, but it was totally worth the wait! I saved some money by having it installed unfinished. We figured since we were painting all the trim and walls anyway, we could go ahead and paint this too.

This is how it turned out! I love the soft arch at the top.  We also added a small piece of moulding to the top of the fireplace mantle. Now it looks finished, but not overpowering.

I love how cozy and well "cottagey" the room looks now. We even took out the speakers. David will hang up the soundbar for the TV soon. I can't help but think about what the TV of the future will look like. For some reason, I feel like there won't be one. I think everyone will have their own personal device with their own set of headphones or something and will watch things independently. Hmmmm..... what to hang there if that happens. hee,hee,hee.

I love the way the sunlight pours into this room in the afternoon. It makes me smile and it feels like a warm hug on these cold winter days.

This is the view looking back towards the kitchen and the foyer. The kitchen is on our list for the distant future. I have to save lots of pennies for that one. Not that it will be all that fancy, but because it will involve new flooring at the same time.

Speaking of flooring. I got this new bench for the foyer. It's made from reclaimed wood and has a super strong iron base. I love that this piece is made to last. I also love the color of the wood and when I redo the hardwood floors and replace the carpet in the bedrooms with hardwood, this is the color I want. It's so warm and isn't too dark or too light. It's just right in the middle.

And, speaking of being in the middle. Have you heard of this? My new friend, Susan Schwant, in Michigan told me about this after I was telling the class that I consider myself two notches above being a minimalist. I told them that I find minimalism too harsh and that it looks like a college student who just moved out. At the same time, I can't handle clutter. I'm a neat freak who hates to clean, so the less there is to dust the better! LOL! Plus, I feel there is just too much, as I say "Happy Crappy," out there. People fill their homes and fill their homes and fill their homes with stuff that has absolutely no purpose or meaning. It's just a bunch of stuff their kids get stuck with getting rid of. I explained to the class that I was a "cozy minimalist." I liked "Not too little, Not too much." Susan then told me about this book and it describes me and my design style perfectly!

I'll be sharing more about Lagom in upcoming blog posts and in new adventures. But I wanted to share one of my favorite things about this lifestyle that ties into my business tagline of "Designs to Inspire." You see, your home should be a reflection of YOU! It should be a statement about what makes YOU happy. It doesn't matter one bit about what the trend is (grey walls) or that all the decor in the box stores looks like it belongs in the dentist office. You should decorate your home in a way that brings YOU the most joy.

For me, that is "Calm, Clean and Serene." Neutral, warm colors and items that add texture such as linen, cotton and wool. It also means decorating with art that makes my heart happy every time I look at it. For instance, my beloved Sir Walter Harrington and Lady Hannah Goldenhare original watercolor paintings by my dearest friend, Jules Woolford in England. Both custom framed by dear friends Mary Kay and Maryann in New Bern, NC.

And, this print from my talented artist friend, Jeri Landers. Again custom framed by my friends.

This bunny picture has been passed back and forth between Mommy Syl (Captain's mom) and me several times. It has also had several different mats and frames. Mommy isn't getting it back this time. ;)

This next piece is a whimsical and fun piece. It is a real bag that held bunny food from England. I love it because it reminds me of my beloved Harrington bunny who I lost in 2015. My friend Sue, who lives in Canada, had her daughter in England purchase it. I had it custom framed. It has meaning to nobody but me and I love that.

These pieces were picked up on special adventures with friends.

This is a vintage piece of hammered aluminum, which was popular as wedding gifts from the 1930's through 1950. It was made by someone's hands here in the USA and I will take that any day over a mass produced piece of junk from China.

This too is a vintage pewter candlestick. It's heavy and whenever I look at it, I imagine someone lighting the candle and walking through the house on their way to tell a bedtime story to a child.

Finally, these three pictures are extra special too. The photo on the left is my grandmother. She became an angel in 2009 at age 92. In this photo, she was in her 20's. She loved the ocean and swimming in it. My grandmother was smart, sassy, loving and didn't take crap off anyone. Her favorite thing in the whole world was a hug.... oh how I miss her and her hugs.

The center piece is an original watercolor painting of my Sugie bunny by friend, Sue Andre. Sugie loved to lay under her willow tent. I lost her in 2011 from a rare rabbit disease called Megacolon syndrome. She was such a sweet girl.

The last photo was taken in 2001, the same year this little cottage of mine was built. This is my oldest niece, Laura, talking to me on the phone. Remember our giant, cordless phones that would get static if we moved too far away from the base? In this photo, Laura is one year old. I can't believe she will be 18 this year. Isn't it funny how TV's, phones and even little kiddos change within a blink of an eye? All the more reason to make the things and the people we surround ourselves with extra special.

There are many, more projects to be done and truthfully, I'm not in any hurry. I'm having such a fun time enjoying this journey.

Hugs and see ya next week,


lucyleabrown said...

Hi Michelle, love the changes you have made. I too have been moving toward less stuff. I will have to look this book up, enjoy your new room!!

Sharon said...

Looks beautiful! Love your house!

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

I love your new built-in and changes! Great job.

Jules Woolford said...

One word for this post -
You know. :) xxx

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

WHAT an improvement, I mean, THAT is huge! Bravo to all involved and I love your mantle now, Shell! That "hole" in the wall now has the kind of character that makes this room even cozier! Dontcha just love a makeover of a room?And your bunny collection, oh it's darling. And now, we are in February and I'm ready to celebrate the coming of spring and for us, that means seeing more bunnies in our garden patch. I can't wait!

Diane Knott said...

Everything looks beautifully serene, Michelle. Just followed you, as I am also blogging once again. Am going now to add you to my list! I'm still working on how it all looks - I forget so much of how to use all of the layout buttons. lol


kc said...

Oh, stunning, cozy and WARM! Now the room looks filled with love, not stuff. I can't decide if I love the new built-in or the fact that the sofa faces the view the most. ?? Our sofa looks out our sliding doors, to the big side yard, where all the sandhill cranes come to feed. Yes, I have to look sideways or lie down to watch TV, but, I'm good with that! I'd rather watch the dog run around the yard or the birds scratching in the dirt than the TV any day!

Our house had dead gray chalky paint on the front door and outside columns, as well as all colors of 1982 peach, burgundy, yellow, gray and gold (yes, really), even though it was a newer house. I guess it was the people were stuck in that era. I spent the first 3 days in the house, CRYING, wondering what in the world we'd just done! First order of business was to repaint the burgundy sponge-painted bedroom wall and the sewing room a bright, cheery buttery cream. THEN we painted the front door a bright, almost marine blue! Oh, yes, what a difference that made. Then we could move on to all the rest of the house. It was only at that point that I could even stay overnight in the house! Up till then, I wouldn't stay in it, preferring to sleep outside in our 5th wheel!

But you've got such special artwork and pictures, you can just feel the love in your home; it's no longer just a house. I'm so happy that you are able to make it your happy place! Love and hugs to you, David and all the fur babies!

Louise Dückhow said...

I really like your changes and LAGOM is a word we often use here in Sweden.
As I´m 80 + I try do do my best and throw lots away - and feel happy!
Greetings from a snowing day Louise D

Barb Neiwert said...

Great improvements, and thanks for taking us along on the ride! Always great to see how little changes can compliment the entire house! Oh - I especially love the rabbit bowl/vase/??? Adorable!

Linda in Calif. said...

I love what you have done. So cozy and serene. I noticed right away you took out one of the shelves from the built in - much better and I like the way your books, pictures and bottom items reflect that arch at the top. (Very nice touch.)

I may use these paint colors when repainting, so thanks for listing the names. They are similar to what I have now. I hate gray too - it's depressing. I say it's for jails and prisons. hahaha

I enjoyed seeing your beautiful items and hearing what is special about each one. I love the Harrington feed bag. I remember your little bunny - from your posts. I much admit that I loved him too.


Now that is a wonderful 'redo' and so you--and boy what a difference of some new paint in a nice color and a bit of 'undecorating' --I just love the new look and it seems you do too-so that is great!!!
hugs, to all fur balls--di

Natascha Rieper said...

It looks lovely! So glad you got your “cottage” house in your favorite town!

Jeanette said...

Love it. The renovation looks wonderful. The little cupboard is beautiful. Hug, xx

Rabbits' Guy said...

Lucky you with the brother deal!

My brother lives near San Diego and keeps sending pictures of them walking barefoot in shorts on the beach. He is not coming up here to my house for nuthin'!

Createology said...

Sweet Shell your home is elegant and simple and cozy comfortable all at the same time. You have found a lovely style of decorating. I am tryng to find a happy medium from Traditional and too much everywhere to something more than minimalist which I find cold and devoid of character I love. I think I need to read this book of Lagom. I do believe in enjoying what we love! <3

Shirley said...

Hi Shell, Surprise I came to visit this morning. I loved catching up with your fix it. I enjoyed seeing what you did to your room. It looks so much more like it is lived in. I also enjoyed reading about your classes that you teach which I would love to meet you in person. The bunny that I won from you will becoming to my apartment that I live in now for the present time. I am progressing in rehabbing my leg but I have a way to go yet. Take care, my friend. Hugs and Prayers from Missouri Shirley

Erica said...

It looks great! I absolutely agree with you, your home should reflect you no matter the fashion or 'in' style 💟💟💟

Susie Q said...

I love the new room and the new case it really does make the space look better. If you ever have the TV taken off the wall you could always put a mirror up there. That is very popular thing to have over the fireplace in the UK. I have that and the mirror bottom sits on the top of the mantle and then I have candles in front of it and it creates a lovely effect when they are lit and the reflection is in the mirror. Can't wait for your next renovations. Hugs, Susie xx

Elizabeth Pollock said...

Hi Micelle, gosh I've been away from blogland far too long. I am sooooo sorry to learn of the passing of Harrington!!! I lost my beloved Raphael in 2015 as well... not a good year. Anyway, I have a new blog up and am just trying to get back into the groove of blogging. I shall look forward to reading your blog once again :D Hugs for now from snowy brrrr New Hampshire...