Renovation Update: Blood, Sweat and Tears

This was our first full week in the house and it was a particularly trying one. Moving into a construction site is hard- you can’t unpack and settle, everything is filthy no matter how much you clean and if you are like me, you just start making lists of how many more additional things you want/need to fix.  While I know in my heart I am so lucky to have the ability and opportunity to renovate this house, I admit that I spent a good solid several hours last week absolutely losing my shit. I do miss the city. I know  I just moved and all change takes time to get used to. And I know that renovating takes time. A long time- like two years. Oh, and a boatload of patience is so crucial (which I don’t have in spades).  But these are all things that will hopefully test me and in time make me a better person. So Sunday I bucked up and worked on the house with fervor and enjoyed peeking around the neighborhood and spending time working on the yard with my parents and Andrew.

Andrew was also busy painting, like, everything in the house, so I focused on the stairs which were really bugging me because the previous owner had painted around the runner and they looked beyond ghetto and were the first thing I saw when walking in the door and set my mood on “foul”. I have one recommendation for those painting stairs with spindle balusters…. HIRE A PAINTER. Holy sweet mother of all things sacred, taping off and painting these things was one hell of a job. I nearly went cross eyed and lost most motor function in my right hand after FOUR hours of working on them.

Before I painted, but after I became intimately acquainted with blue painters tape… and a gallon of Benjamin Moore White Dove semi-gloss.


After, so so much better and cleaner. Also note Andrew has been making progress painting our hall Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist. And we hope that this year we will save enough to have the floors, stairs and banister re-stained a very dark walnut. Oh, and I’m gonna have a wool sisal runner made with banding for the stairs. Lots to do. Lots to pay for. :)

Looking down at the powder room you can see we still have to paint the trim but the new wood floors were laid in there and in the new hallway to the right where a closet used to be (awaiting poly)

See our new hallway- this small decision made a HUGE impact on light and flow. And because I love the original dentil molding so much we had to figure out how to finish this off. So we re-purposed molding from the walls in the dining room we plan to knock down when we do the kitchen next! Now we just have to paint the trim and walls and this space will be great!

But back to the powder room- pondering wallpaper for this teeny tiny space… really feeling the Hicks Hexagon on the right… the grey/blue colorway. I was thinking I’d do something crazy and huge scale and bright, but the more I see the house change the more I feel like it should be modern but subtle in color.

Also loving the new colorways from Cole & Son of the large scale diamonds, the large scale Hicks and the grey/tan smaller Hicks shown above…. decisions, decisions.

I have loved this paper my whole career so I feel like it would be a smart choice.

I also love this Phillip Jeffries Grasscloth in Chain Link pattern…. I have a client who has her powder room in it in orange and its adorable.

So gross before. UGH. That floor. Can’t wait for the new toilet and teeny, tiny pedestal sink to go in from Waterspot and the sconces from Lamps Plus!

Speaking of Lamps Plus, my Robert Abbey Bling Flushmount came for the master and I was so super psyched! Putting the individual glass drops on was quite a job though…. I poured a glass of white and rolled up my sleeves….

Two layers of individually wrapped crystals. On boy.

My fingers started to go numb at this point but I was loving the look.  Finding stylish flushmounts isn’t easy and this is such a great one!

TA DA! (Bedroom still not set up, styled or organized- that mirror has since moved)

My mom edged all my pachysandra with rocks my dad dug up from another part of the yard. Crafty folks.

The yard is looking SO SO much better!

Our view across to the neighbors from our chairs in the back (our wine time spot).

While out walking and exploring the neighborhood the other day I saw this adorable little sign outside a gorgeous house and it made me smile.

LOVE this house on our street. Columns make me weak in the knees.

Another house that made me drool. That PORCH!

Quite the entryway, eh?

Sweet Oliver LOVES our mulch. So much that he rolls in it and then runs up to my bed and rolls around in it making it look like I’m planning to plant a garden in there. But look at that face, how can I be mad?

And then there is my “first born”, who takes after his mom and is quite anxious about the move. We go splitsies on these.

And when I got in bed last night I found this book under my pillow with a bookmark it it to this page. I knew immediately it was from my dad who had been at the house working today. So sweet, I need to remember this.

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  1. Renovating is no fun, but you’re going to have an amazing home when it’s all over. It’s already amazing. I almost cried when I saw what your dad left for you – how sweet and thoughtful. Very few men are that wonderful. No wonder you found an amazing husband too – your dad set a great example for what to expect. Hang in there!!!!!

  2. Everything is looking so lovely! For future painting projects give the green “frogtape” painters tape a try — I din’t believe the hype at first, but it really does give a much crisper, cleaner edge than the blue tape. Happy renovating!

  3. Moves can be oh so stressful, (I know, I just went through one a week ago) but do as your dad says and Have Faith! It will all come together soon enough. And on the bright side, the things that are finished so far look AMAZING! I especially love the new light fixture in your bedroom!

  4. Moving plus construction is the worst! We moved a year ago and we made the poor decision to work on our construction projects one at time, spread over the months. It’s been torture! But your dad is right (and SO sweet!)–hang in there. Can’t wait to see your projects as they reach completion–makes for great reading!

  5. I am so in love with your house! It is so completely charming and I’m loving all the choices you have made. Great job!

  6. Congrats! The place is coming along great and all your hard work is certainly paying off! What is the name of the book your dad gave you? That is such a sweet sentiment and with that beautiful typography I would love to frame something like that for a gallery wall. Thanks and can’t wait to hear more as you continue to make this house your home!

  7. Your dad is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Gotta tell him his Portuguese adopted daughter said so!! ;)) Paris Maison et Objet had those cole and son wallpapers all over the place!! You’re on the right track! That house will be absolutely amazing once it’s done just gotta have faith! Cheers from AnaAntunes

  8. That crystal drop chandelier is freaking gorgeous! Definitely worth the patience it took to put together. I love watching your house come together. My husband and I are house-hunting, so I’m starting to get a taste of what we might be in for. Good luck with everything! It looks great so far!

  9. Coming along beautifully. Maybe you’ll get some new clients in the new neighborhood. Too funny about Baxter.

  10. A word of advice from a fellow anxiety-riddled woman who almost had a breakdown during our own renovation: Remind yourself that this is going to take time, that things will be 1/2 done for a bit, that there will be unexpected issues/expenses, and that you will feel like you are covered in dust 10 minutes after you shower and walk through your house. And that ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE EXACTLY WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN DURING A RENOVATION! (I know you know this in some part of your head, but you need to tell yourself this so that the rest of your brain can remember it!) The best part is that, while there’s always work/projects/additional phases of renovations down the road when you own, this particular phase will come to an end, and you will completely enjoy and luxuriate in seeing your hard work pay off in your beautiful surroundings. This time WILL come, and you just need to BREATHE through the process each day and very soon it will be over (and the dust eventually does go away!!!) and you will be so happy! The house is looking fantastic, and you’ve done so much to improve it already. Congratulations to you and Andrew!

  11. It’s looking great, Erin! LOVE the flushmount. (So true that it’s so hard to find a good one. I still have the booblight up in my master because I can’t find anything I like!)
    I vote for the muted Hicks wallpaper but any of those would look beautiful.
    Keep the faith!
    Sue Erneta

  12. Hey would you mind letting me know which web host you’re using? I’ve loaded your
    blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say this blog loads
    a lot faster then most. Can you recommend a good hosting provider at a honest
    price? Many thanks, I appreciate it!

  13. It is all going to be so GREAT! I understand the anxiety though – a few years ago my husband and his dad decided that they should re-roof our house, all on their own. This was a disaster because we lived in a tiny 1000 sq ft home and my in-laws and their two dogs stayed with us during this time. The roof job took longer than the 3 day weekend, and when I had to go back to work and there was still pounding and grimy dirty roofing tile stuff everywhere, I lost it. But…my in-laws and I learned a lot from that incident and I think it made our relationship, and my relationship with my husband stronger. We also learned to never try to do a roof job on our own: there are some things that you should hire a contractor to do. :)

  14. I love your honesty. I hate when people talk about their home renos like it is no big deal and how easy and fun painting is…BS! With that said, you are so lucky to be able to carry out your vision for your home and totally make it yours. Good things take time. Find one little area that you can completely finish right now, splurge on it, make it great, and then you have a little place to hide out when it gets to be too much. I’m loving this series!

  15. Love seeing the progress. And bravo on your gracious attitude about it all! Your father couldn’t be more right – Have Faith. You have a wonderful support system helping you fulfill your dreams and you’ll have a wonderful home made from love to show for it.

  16. such an adorable house + charming neighborhood. love the subtle changes in the season coming it will only get better + better. and why did seeing the book marked with a sentiment from your dad make me cry?!! it just makes me miss my parents so much. you are one lucky lady. enjoy the journey.

  17. It looks like things have come along very nicely so far! It’s always good to think about the progress made and feel some satisfaction from that instead of stressing out about what’s still left to be done – easier said than done, for sure, but you’ve done amazing so far and you will continue to do so!

  18. I get it. We’ve been there- hell, we’re still there. Two years into renovations and each time I tour a corner I still add something onto that never ending list, something that sets me afoul each time I look at it. But girl, that house, your mad skills and all those amazingly talented people helping you… I can’t even imagine the greatness that will unfold there. And your Dad leaving that book for you… makes me remember all of those months my own Dad was here sanding and painting away when we first moved in. You will miss things like that when the big stuff is finally done. Trust. Soak it up.

  19. Hi Erin!

    What a great renovation! Who makes the wall paper you are going to use in the powder room? I have been looking for marbleized wallpaper and I love the sample you have taped up in the bathroom. Keep up the inspiring work!

  20. Like I said in a previous post. Rome wasn’t built in a day! The stairs look great. A chevon patterned runner would be awesome.

  21. I really like your blog, but I am not a fan of you calling something “ghetto”. It’s offensive. What you are saying when you use this word is ‘my stairs look ugly, like they are the stairs that a poor black person would have in their house’. I’m sure that’s not what you really mean to say and were just being flip, but it’s classist and I’m sure that’s not what you’re about. Maybe find another way to vent? Leave the ghetto out of it. By the looks of it, you’re place is amazing! And will be swoon worthy when you are finished. Best wishes.

  22. what a great post- and what a wondreful supportive Dad and Mom you have- it makes all of the stress a little easier when you have people helping you out who have been in your shoes for sure!
    The house is looking lovely- and the decision to take out the closet and open into the hallway made a HUGE difference- well done!!

  23. The Hicks hexagon is a no brainer. Stunning. (It may end up in my powder room as well).
    Love, love, love the light fixture.
    Love your Dad too…

  24. I’ve read and enjoyed your blog for years. And, while I fully understand the appeal of sponsors (offsetting the crazy cost of renovation, etc.) — I miss non-sponsored, non-commercial posts! As a reader, it makes it hard to rely on the choices featured here. By my mathematically-challenged count, seven of the nine last posts have either been sponsored with lots of ‘vendor dropping’ or advertiser features/giveaways. It is more like reading ads than reading a blog over the last several weeks and it makes me sad, though at least (unlike many, many other blogs) you’re fully disclosing who is giving you financial incentives to feature. I know there have been some very nasty comments in this vein, so just wanted to put a more “reasoned” long-term reader voice out there.

  25. I enjoy your blog alot,but sometimes it is frustrating to read. You have renovation sponsors!!! And time to renovate! And really talented people helping you! For free! That is already blessed. You have so much talent and I imagine you expect that others expect you to have a perfect house from day one given your occupation, but anyone normal and realistic does not. Keep on the inspiring design selections, but just like you posted that post about the designer who passed away a few years ago, put everything into perspective.

  26. Hi there,
    I live in australia on the gold coast. It is beautiful over here. BUT OMG i love your street and all the houses. such character. We are all building massive boring square chunky homes over here. (myself included)
    what a beautiful place where you live.
    i look forward to following your blog
    Pen :)

  27. Your dad is right! Keep the faith! It is so tough but it will be so worth it in the end! I’ve been exactly where you are and you’re right living in a construction zone is HORRIBLE! But it will all be worth it in the end. We worked on our 1932 Craftsman for over two years and are still working but it has come so far and we are so proud. It will be amazing! Not to mention, how great is it to have such a sweet dad who knows you so well? They’re the best! P/S I would go with the tan and gray hex wallpaper! It’s precious.

  28. You go girl (and keep going!) Andrew, your mom and dad…how blessed you are to have such caring family. When you “look back on it all” you WILL have enjoyed the journey. Trust me…I’m a mom that put rocks around the flower beds, too. :) franki

  29. You have a very similar house to ours that was built in 1940. One small piece of advice.
    If you have young children, do not wallpaper a powder room!!! Do fun (washable!!) paint
    below the chair railing and you could wallpaper above, It was the best advice I received
    from a friend of mine years ago!! Love your blog.

  30. The gray/tan smaller Hicks gets my vote for your powder room! Love everything you have done so far and looking forward to seeing the transformation progress.

  31. Oy…the dust and dirt. YOu nailed it when you said no matter how much you clean it is always dirty…I was told it does get better and as we near the end of our downstairs remodel (only to move upstairs after the holidays) I am looking forward to no boxes or dust and time to actually enjoy my gleaming new wood floors. You will get there too…your sweet Dad had the right advice

  32. Your home is progress quickly and looking really good! I know how you feel in regards to the light fixture. We just installed a crystal chandelier light in our house and it was a TOTAL pain ;( but it turned out great so it pays off. The houses on your street are spectacular! I have a weakness for columns too.

  33. I love that white ground wallpaper that looks like fireworks…..where is that one from!
    I would love that for my bathroom….it looks so mod and happy~

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