One Room Challenge: Week One – Master Powder Before Pictures and Inspiration

First off, hello to all of you new to this blog! I’m so excited to be guest posting as part of the One Room Challenge this Spring 2019. I’m Laurel and I’ve been working on my house — which I named Berrybrier after the brambles of blackberries and raspberries in the backyard — since I bought it in Summer 2017. It’s been a huge project full of ups and downs and I’ve been living here throughout it! I painted the house a happy, salmonberry, coral pink color and finished a DIY gut reno on the Main Bathroom all by myself. I am currently working on the Kitchen as well as the other main spaces! Click around and check out the progress while you’re here!

But while other renovations were taking place, the little Powder Bathroom off my Master Bedroom was neglected! So this room has become my One Room Challenge guest project! It’s difficult to force myself to finish and style a space before moving on to the next one, so this is a great incentive!

This space was a delightful shade of yellow when I bought the house. A 24″ wide door (very narrow!) allowed you to squeeze into the room from the Master Bedroom. 1970’s or ’80’s faux wood wainscot paneling did not help the overall space. The room was absolutely tiny at 54″ deep and only 30″ wide! You could barely scootch yourself around the sink to get to the toilet, let alone use this space to get ready for work! It felt immediately dated and old in here and it didn’t belong with the house. The layer of dirt, grime, and gross that coated the space did not help at all!

The sink in the Powder Bathroom was falling off the wall since the bolts holding it to the wall had missed the backing. It was so large for the space you could quite literally wash your hands while sitting on the toilet. During the demo of the Main Bathroom at Berrybrier I ended up removing some of the paneling in the room in order to get at the bath tub pipes which had to be cut from this side in order to remove the tub. When I took off the paneling I discovered that there already was a nice, small, square hole underneath to access those pipes, so that’s probably why that paneling was added!

I made the hole a LOOOOT bigger to cut the pipes and then I left it like this for four months. And yes, I did still use this bathroom every single day to brush my teeth and get ready for my 9-5 job. Go me!

After I completed the Main Bathroom, this space still got ignored until the rest of the house improved. But no longer! I am finally ready to attack this poor room and make it something that functional for getting ready in the mornings, packed full of storage, and beautiful to boot!

Since I love a challenge, things are a bit tight at the moment, and because I don’t plan this to be a long term bathroom, my renovation budget is going to be $650. That’s right, a full gut renovation of my bathroom for less than $650! In order to meet that goal I’m going to use as much as I can get for free and make some other smart decisions.

So let’s check out some inspiration so you know where I am headed!

I will need to significantly reduce the size of the sink so this room is easier to navigate around in! The one now is a pretty average size, but this room is just not an average size. As much as I’ve tried to make the existing sink work to save money, it’s just not working. So I’m taking a page out of Young House Love’s book and splurging on a tiny sink! I know they didn’t think their sink was right for their large Master Bathroom and eventually replaced it, but it’s the perfect size for my tiny Master Powder! I found something similar on Wayfair and bought it.

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The plumbing will all be staying in the same locations, but I’ll be adding lots of storage around it. I’ve decided to add wall to wall shelving above the toilet and use simple wooden brackets to keep costs down. I love this picture of a kitchen which shows how classic and aged this look can be. It doesn’t feel cheap at all, even though it is super affordable at only a few bucks a bracket!

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I watched Sharp Objects around the time I first started brainstorming for this room and fell in love with the pink beadboard in the bathroom featured heavily on the show. Since the walls were a mess in here and I decided to use as many of the scraps of drywall I already had, trying to tape and mud would have taken a thousand years. I decided the best use of my budget would be to cover the drywall with beadboard panels from floor to ceiling. The Sharp Objects bathroom served as an inspiration for the beadboard and the color though.

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This color was going to be tricky! I want this space to be blush against a formerly white cheek; hint of pink in a white climbing rose; a calm pink, mature, pale, and barely there. It was a tricky color to land on! This color was the closest inspiration I could find. It’s just a drop of pink in white without too many overt undertones.

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For the floor, I didn’t need much tile at all since it was such a tiny space! My parents had some left over tile from their bathroom renovation and offered it up. A marble mosaic for free? Yes, please! It’s a pretty two tone basket weave like this here. They also gave me a few leftover 12×12 marble tiles from the same renovation which I am planning to try to use as transition strip into the bedroom. The tile is very similar to what’s in this shot below, but I’m planning on using a black grout instead which will give it more contrast. Now if only my bathroom could expand to be this big too!

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I want the new bathroom to be packed with the storage I need, while still feeling light and open. It’s important that the space feel like it belongs to the rest of the house and isn’t a dated addition. Overall, I want the room to be light-filled and bright, with just the palest of calamine lotion pink on the walls and ceiling. After much debate, I landed on Benjamin Moore’s Pink Beach as the perfect barely pink and not beige color. The soft pink tone with be juxtaposed with a more dynamic black and white floor, a black faucet, and black accessories. The chrome accessories and lighting should thus fade nicely into the background. And of course, I’ll fill the shelves with houseplants!

Bath Accessories | Sink | Tile | Beadboard | Lighting (Similar) | Paint | Bracket | Faucet

Check out all the other One Room Challenge Guest Participants here!

What do you think of my plan? Would you get ready in the master bathroom as it currently is or would you hold out for the renovated space? Have you ever tried to put together a renovation project with only the cheapest and free materials you could find? Let me know in the comments!

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Designing my Kitchen: Inspiration for Phase II and a Phase I Plan

I would love to gut and completely reconfigure my kitchen, but right now my savings are focused elsewhere! So in the meantime I’ve begun Phase 1 of the kitchen renovation. This Phase is to hold me over until I can do a Phase II gut renovation and really move things around. Phase I includes a lot of cosmetic updates that have a big visual impact, but smaller financial impact: removing the sheet vinyl, refinishing my hardwood floors, painting the cabinets, and painting the walls. But while I’m elbows deep in those projects, I’ve still got kitchen planning on the mind. I’ve been pinning tons of inspiration of old kitchens and kitchens with old vibes, so when I’m ready to renovate, my vision for the space simply needs to be detailed out. In the meantime, I’m ready for Phase I to transform the space so it no longer looks like this hot mess!

Since I ultimately want my kitchen to speak to the age and historicism of my 110 year old home, I spent a lot of time looking for images of 1920s kitchens. This one below shows so many elements I’d love to bring into my own kitchen. Can we just talk about high backed kitchen sinks? I know that inset sinks are all the rage these days and they’re FAR easier to clean than a drop in sink which sits on top of the counter, but can someone please explain to me why high-backed sinks ever went out of style? The splash guard alone is so amazing! Never worrying about water getting behind the sink and damaging the grout / caulk where your backsplash meets the counter? Count me in. I have been on the hunt for the right restored sink for a while now. I love the aspect of the built-in dish drain rack too! So cute! I will probably place mine on top of the counter rather than having exposed legs though since storage is always an issue here at Berrybrier. Another wonderful thing about this picture is it shows a glass hutch in a kitchen. Something I loved about the kitchen when I first moved to Berrybrier. I’m also very curious about what the cabinet on the left held since it looks very similar to modern day pull out trash drawers!

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This is just a sketch below, but again, it really drives home some of the aspects of early 1900s kitchens that I want to incorporate in my future kitchen and preserve in my existing one. Here’s a high-backed sink shown placed on top of a counter with a cabinet below. I’d choose a closed lower cabinet for myself (my cats seem to think it’s such a fun game to play in open cabinetry), but the almost-symmetry here interests me. Again, the glass hutch makes an appearance, here as a duo framing the window. I love it!

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When I bought Berrybrier, one of the most charming things in the entire house was the glass cabinets in the kitchen. I adored them! They struck such a lovely vintage note and as a designer, I was so excited to have some shelving to style out! Within just a few weeks of living there, I filled the shelves with my things I used most frequently (note these aren’t styled at all). Even with the rest of the kitchen in chaos, I wanted to be able to use these dreamy cabinets. So seeing those kitchen above with their glass hutches makes me want to keep this aspect in a future kitchen. I loved the idea of a hutch with glass doors way back when I lived at the Duplex in Portland, so this is a nice continuation of that theme.

Okay, let’s get into some modern inspiration now. I loooove this image below which has so many amazing take-aways! First, the trim color obviously makes me ten kinds of happy since I love a bold trim paint. Second, the pot rack over a small island is exactly the kind of smart storage solution I need in my own space. And finally, look at that hutch. I mean, god help me, that thing is gooorgeous! I love the paneling on the lower doors, the beadboard, the accent color, the fact the the glass doors are sliders. They seem to not have a ton of storage needs however, since the cabinets hold a collection of vintage ware rather than every day necessities. While we’re taking design tips here, please note the picture hanging above the door. Such a cute and creative way to make use of high ceilings! I am 100% doing that in my kitchen now and for Phase II!

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This image intrigues me with the wood counters on wood cabinets look. It feels so vintage and folksy doesn’t it? This type of simple kitchen cabinet feels like it gets to the heart of my house. It’s not fancy, but it strikes a note of casual, antique charm. Should I do wood cabinets with a buncher block counter? Butcher block counters would be super affordable and this makes them feel so fetching in a non-farmhouse-y way.

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My kitchen has the 9′ ceilings and since it’s a smaller space they feel even higher. I’ve alway dreamed of a library ladder in my kitchen (or library!) and this feels so practical for upper storage too. If I could find away to make this work (and be reasonably affordable!) in my Phase II kitchen I would just about die every time I walked in and saw it! The down fall of these is that they take up a lot of space and constantly need to be shuffled around and out of the way. They work best on straightaways, like the one here in this galley style kitchen, so with my kitchen split onto three walls, it might not make sense. But! I admire it just the same and take a lot of other inspiration from this picture. Again, we see sliding glass cabinet doors on the uppers. We’ve established that I am HERE for that! But have you noticed what else repeats? Stained wood cabinets with wood countertops! Am I doing this you guys?! I really love this stylistically. Is it super practical? Probably not. Will I ever be able to install crownmouling without a butt load of caulk and paint to make it look right? No… the cabinets and crown themselves would definitely need to be professionally installed. Not exactly a moment for savings there. Hmmm…

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There are a lot of very formal traditional kitchen out there, stunning ones, and I love them all. But that kind of traditional formality doesn’t really work in my more modest house, which is why I’m looking for more casual traditional inspiration. This image below tiles that together well. I love the elements like the v-groove backsplash and the simple inset shaker style cabinetry. The knobs and bin bulls are simple without intricate ornamentation and the shelf above the range utilizes an affordable, simple wooden bracket.

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This kitchen is stunningly gorgeous and the deep green painted cabinets are calling my name. The woodwork here is a bit more formal and complex, but the hardware remains simple, which I like. I’m also a sucker for an upper cabinet that comes down to kiss a countertop. Such a simple, stunning detail. The green tied with copper and brass accents makes a strong argument for painted cabinets as well! Marble countertops would be a wondrous luxury, but one I’m unlikely to afford anytime soon.

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My kitchen is not quite big enough to have a proper island, and I don’t love the modern concepts of islands in every kitchen. Older kitchens had freestanding tables, sometimes counter-height, but often with chairs. In my space, however, I don’t have space for a true dining table. But an old wooden counter-height table with a few stools that could be tucked underneath would be a great place for guests to perch while I cook. Considering the current favored place to sit is the stairs, this would be a nice upgrade! This kitchen appears to be a bit wider than mine, but has a similar layout with a skinny table through the middle. I love how this table ties this recently finished kitchen in and makes it feel like part to the past. It’s clearly a well-loved antique and is the showstopper of the whole space. Maybe I can find something like this for my own?! It would be an amazing touch. Or is it possible to build something with this much character using reclaimed woods?

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Since marble countertops on the perimeter are more of a pipe dream than any sort of reality, maybe the island is a better place to make that dream come true. A remnant slab could make a great small, freestanding island top! This one sits on a rustic, reclaimed wood base which almost looks like something I could actually build.

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Or, to simplify, there’s always the option to buy a freestanding island. There a lot of metal islands with marble top readily available online. This one comes with shelves for storage, which would be a wonderful addition since I live with someone who seems to own every baking utensil, pan, and toy. As a packrat myself, I’ll admit I never seem to have enough space for my cooking items either! A freestanding island or table of some sort is definitely a component of the Phase I kitchen renovation.

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Then there’s the stairs. I have to admit, it’s been a year since the kitchen floors were finished and almost a year since the stairway was completed, but I never finished restoring the wood on the kitchen steps! I was in such a hurry to redo the floors I didn’t want to waste any more hours working on the steps that looong weekend. And then I just kept putting it off. A few weeks ago my roommate was gone for a long weekend and I planned to finish the steps while she was out, but then I was in such a rush to work on some other things and realized there was no point in stressing myself out even more trying to squeeze in refinishing stairs. So where the stairs enter the kitchen they are still half-stripped, half-sanded; and the landing still has sheet vinyl on it! I’ll get on finishing up that project…eventually. But let’s talk about what the stairs could look like in Phase II. I’d really love to open up the stairwell to the kitchen and add a wood railing instead. It would make the stairwell feel so much bigger! I could raise the ceiling above the stairs in the kitchen so the header height was more than 5’9″ and not having a tight U-turn framed with walls would make bringing furniture to the second floor much easier. For reference here’s what it looked like in February 2018, before the kitchen floors were refinished. This is a screenshot from the video I shared last week of the whole house during this crazy time! That door in the right of the picture used to be at the stairs, separating the stairway!

This picture is my inspiration for what the kitchen stairs could be in Phase II! I love the mix of the wood railing with the painted post and balusters. The dark risers look a bit like mine too, right? This little stairway is simple, yet stunning! I love the details of the small art pieces and open space on the walls too.

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Part of Phase I will definitely be a hutch. Since I have this one I brought with me from the Duplex, it just might finally be time to paint it to work best in the new space! I could paint it black to match the cabinets and then add the same cabinet hardware as the cabinets and I could add a fun pop of color on the inside like this below. If you scroll all the way up, one of the first kitchen inspirations has a pop of color inside the hutch too. I think this is just so fun. And for those of you worried I’m painting an antique, I am definitely not. My hutch is almost definitely from the 1980s!

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So, that’s a whole lot of ideas and inspiration, what am I actually doing for Phase I? Well, I made you a mood board, so check it out below! First up, all the cabinets will be painted Benjamin Moore’s HC-190 Black. I’m going to add reclaimed V-groove wainscoting that I was gifted from my Uncle Scott’s Uncle Dan and Aunt Sherry who live in Portland and work in construction. It’s exciting because this wainscoting doesn’t look brand new, it’s aged and full of marks and history. SO MUCH BETTER than brand new. The image on the mood board is from Emily Henderson’s Portland Master Bathroom renovation project. A gorgeous shot that really shows how a deep color can bring this wainscoting to life. It’s going to look even more amazing painted Benjamin Moore’s 1498 Forest Floor, which is the same color I painted the bathroom that’s off the kitchen and will continue to use on the trim throughout the rest of the house. The final color is Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue which is the color I painted my pegboard which I made for the kitchen at the Duplex. I’ll be utilizing the pegboard again in my new kitchen and I think it’s such a fun and unique combination when used with the moody dark green! I’ve also replaced the cheap hallow core slab backdoor with an antique half-lite door to let more light in to the kitchen. The door will also be painted Palladian Blue. I’m debating also using this color on the inside of my hutch! Either that or a pale, pale pink / calamine lotion color.

Wainscoting Inspiration | BM Palladian Blue | BM Black | BM Forest FloorIsland | Bin Pull | Knob | Hinges | Refrigerator

There’s more though: my fridge (which came with the house) bit the dust in June 2018, so I replaced it with a black one which ties into the black of the the kitchen cabinets, allowing the fridge to blend in rather than stand out like a stainless steel or white one would. Plus, black appliances are back, haven’t you heard?! I love this marble topped island from Crate and Barrel. It’s simply gorgeous and ties in a bit of an old world element, doesn’t it? I’d buy it in a second if it wasn’t over $1000. Plus my dad got a slab of butcher block and is building an island / baking table for my sister which will likely land in my kitchen for the time being. I’ve been hunting at all of the Rejuvenation Factory Sales for new hardware for the kitchen and snagged a bunch of these knobs and bin pulls in unlacquered brass for a steal! I bought as many as were available as I’m hoping to hunt down some cabinet door latches at one of their future sales and reuse all this hardware in the Phase II kitchen. FYI, the bin pulls I got aren’t quite these, mine are no longer sold, but these are equally beautiful. The hinges are from Hardware Hut and also incredibly affordable (though let me tell you, they’re about half the size I thought they’d be! Always, always check dimensions!). So that’s the Phase I kitchen plan! It’s been chugging along and hopefully my pictures can be recovered so I can show you the journey I went through along the way.

Have you ever done a Phase I renovation to tide you over for several years until you could tackle a much larger renovation of the same space? This one is such a transformation since the space was quite dilapidated – despite the charm – when I bought Berrybrier! Please tell me your thoughts on my direction. Are you on board for this look? What would you choose from the inspiration photos for Phase II? Should I eventually do wood cabinets or painted? So much to think about, are you excited? I am excited!

Painting the Stairway and Updating Electrical & HVAC

The stairway at Berrybrier has gone through some pretty dramatic changes in the last year. When I first bought the house, this area was dark lit by only a single bulb on a pull chain at the top of the stairs and a small square window squeezed in at the bottom of the stair. That little window had never even been trimmed out and a screen sat next to it waiting to be installed. The stair railing was almost black covered in god knows what and the light fixture wasn’t centered on anything.

At the top of the stairs was a small crawl door to the eaves of the house which were used primarily for storage. A small trimmed out box in front of the crawl space door contained the ducting which provided heating to both bedrooms.

That hidden crawl space was painfully hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The low height (only 54″H on the taller side of the space) meant you were crouching or crawling when in there and never really comfortable. There were plywood panels over the ceiling joists (there used to be more, but the roofers removed them when they put on the dormer for some reason) which provided the floor space. There was also junk from the former owners randomly scattered throughout the space. And yes, those of you with eagle eyes have spotted that my floor joists are only 2x6s. It’s one of those things that just might be getting in the way of my future bathtub.

When I first toured the house before buying it I knew this space between the two bedrooms was very valuable. The house was screaming for a dormer addition that could hold a medium sized bathroom. This would not only add a ton of value to the house, but also provide endless convenience to those two upstairs bedrooms. People sleeping upstairs would no longer have to creep downstairs at night to use the bathroom or get a glass of water; they’d have access to it just a few feet away! This would also help ensure everyone always had access to a toilet in the house and no more fighting over who got first shower! I have big dreams, you guys!

Building a Dormer Addition

One of the first tasks when I moved into Berrybrier was a big one I hired out: installing a new roof. Berrybrier needed new sheathing and new shingles desperately! When I was working with the contractor on that project he was just as excited about building a dormer as I was!

I put together drawings at work showing the addition and got my permit at one of Portland super handy Homeowner’s Nights at the planning office. I had never done exterior elevations and structural plans before so it was a bit of a challenge but the staff at the planning office were super friendly and helpful. I went one evening for a consultation before returning the next Homeowners Night to apply for the actual permit. That first time I sat with an engineer for an hour reviewing my plans and discussing how to make things work for my house and my future goals. Although I applied for the permit use of the dormer as an unfinished storage space, all the planners immediately knew there’d be a bathroom in this space after glancing at the plans!

Once the permit had been granted, my roofer got straight to work and before I knew it the dormer was built and once the house was painted a cute coral color, it was like the dormer had been part of the exterior all along.

I do just really love my pink house.

Updating Electrical & Adding A Remote Switch

When my electricians came to rework the electrical at my house they installed one of the best changes to the stairwell: light switches!

I also had them center the light fixture box in here so it looked more normal in the new space at the top of the stairs. It was a bit of a journey to get there as they accidentally put the box in a random location and had to come back and put another hole in my ceiling. Which meant I now had two holes to patch in my ceiling. Oh joy!

Now there was a light fixture at the top of the stairs and a light switch at the bottom. The one at the bottom of the stairs is a remote switch which saved the hassle of opening up the walls to wire a three way switch and works in exactly the same way. It’s super convenient now!

Painting the Stairwell

The walls at the top of the stairs had been newly built to a higher proportion to allow a full height door into the new dormer. The texture on the rest of the walls of the stairwell was impossible to match. I patched the places I could, tried mixing sand with my paint, but there really wasn’t a great solution here. Long term, I’ll probably have this whole space professionally skimcoated to a flat finish like is used throughout the rest of the house, but for now this is kinda as good as it gets.

In February 2018 things were getting busy around here as I finished up the bathroom and began working on the kitchen floors. My Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Mike came to visit Portland and asked if there was anything they could do to help around Berrybrier. Ummm free and willing labor? Yes, please!!

Bronwyn picked up some paint and we set them up with all the tools to paint the upper back bedroom and stairwell. I headed to work and when I came home that evening they were putting the final touches on the second coat of paint! I selected Benjamin Moore’s Brushed Aluminum 1485 for the walls after much debate. You can see the colors sampled all over the walls in the floor refinishing post from a couple weeks ago! Brushed Aluminum was the color in the middle. The top option was too grey and the bottom too dark.

I wanted a light taupey color that wasn’t grey or beige or greige! I swatched three colors before landing here. I love the color in the stairwell now since it hits the perfect hue I was hoping for!

Once my Aunt and Uncle finished painting the walls it was up to me to paint the stair risers and trimwork. They kindly had prepped the trim for me, priming everything with my favorite no-VOC primer. The risers were easy. I knew I wanted them to be black and picked up a can of Benjamin Moore’s blackest true black which is called “Black” HC-190. I was planning on painting my kitchen cabinets the same color, so I splurged on the gallon rather than going for the smaller quart.

I started at the top of the stairs and worked my way down, painting each riser as I went. It was a quick and efficient process.

They were heavily textured risers from layers of old paint. I kinda love the look of it. It speaks to the history of the home? It’s like that glimpse of green I see near some of the upstairs baseboards that lets me know the floors were once all painted a dark minty-green: just a hint of the past!

The risers took just two quick coats and were finished quickly in an evening. The risers may have have been quick, but oh boy, did it take me forever to decide on a trim color.

The stairwell was kind of like a test room for the whole house. It was one of the first areas to be painted and those colors were going to wrap into the kitchen, living room, and possibly the dining room too. Which meant some decisions were easy and some exhaustingly difficult. Now I could have just painted the trim white and called it a day. But I didn’t want to do that. See white trim is great for other people, but I’m just not a white trim person. Subtle colored trim? Yes? Bold trim? Yes!! I’m also a designer which means I like to take risks and push things further than many people might feel comfortable doing. There is, however, something completely different about working on your own house rather than someone else’s. At work, it takes me all of 30 minutes to pick a whole house worth of paints for a client. I might have a contractor sample two colors in one or two spaces and then pick the better one in a 5 minute discussion.

BUT OH MY GOD I FINALLY UNDERSTAND PEOPLE!! The indecision is REAL. It took me MONTHS of pulling colors, searching paints, staring at swatches, debating color options, etc etc etc, before I could finally just pick the color. I swatched two light green colors on the trim to see how they’d look with the wall paint. The bottom one was too light, but the top one was maybe, okay?

And in the end, it wasn’t even me who picked the trim color. I didn’t go for any of the colors I swatched. My friend and co-worker Kalie – who was my champion throughout much of this renovation journey, cheering me on, settling my internal debates, reassuring me that I was going to survive, and listening to my endless chatter on all things house related – suggested I use the same dark green paint color from my bathroom for the trim throughout the rest of the house. Hmmmm…. now that idea had traction.

I adore the green paint color in the bathroom off the kitchen. It’s just absolutely perfect and the right amount of saturated with just a hint of grey undertone enough to make it feel sophisticated, but not safe or boring. It’s Benjamin Moore’s Forest Floor 1498. It would look amazing on the v-groove paneled wainscot I was planning for the kitchen and it would definitely be a statement.

I decided to go for it and set about one evening painting the trim in stairwell. It went surprisingly well until half way through the first coat I reached down to the paint can to re-wet my brush and my phone tumbled out of my pocket, yanking out my headphones from my ears, and landing in the wet can of paint! Ahhhh!!!! I watched in shock for a few seconds as my phone slowly sank into the paint, before my brain turned back on and I quickly dove my arm into the can of paint and pulled out my phone, now covered in a thick coat of green!

The only thing I could do was wipe off the paint with my paint brush. Benjamin Moore paint is THICK! When that was done I was able to get a damp rag and clean off the rest of the paint. I put some paper towel over my charger and stick it in and removed it a few times and the phone is still working fine today, so whew! Though paint definitely clogged up my speakers, so those are very muffled now.

Back to painting the hallway though. Two nights of work and and it was complete! Or… as complete as a stairwell that’s missing a door and needs some other work done can be! But hey, a million times better than the original look is still a million times better. Right? Yes! Logic. I mean, the cats certainly were in to it.

I love how the light pours in from the new window in the dormer to light the upper landing! The taupe tones of Brushed Aluminum really help to bounce the light around too.

You can see above that there are still some… less that beautiful things that need some attention though: the ducting.

Rerouting the HVAC

It wasn’t just paint that needed to be worked on up here either. Remember that box that was on the wall by the old crawl space door before the dormer was added? Well it contained the ducting for the space. Just a MINOR detail neither I or our contractor bothered to think about before demo.

Well it had to be changed for obvious reasons. Bronwyn was in the front bedroom and still needed a heat source and I wanted to be able to walk into my future upstairs bathroom without tripping over ducting and falling on my face. I pulled an HVAC permit online and got ready.

To prepare for a project like this (one where I have absolutely no idea what I’m actually doing) I followed a series of important steps. Step One: spend a vast amount of time sitting on the floor of the Home Depot ducting aisle and googling videos of HVAC work and diagrams of ducting. It’s a great use of data. Not! Step Two is to buy supplies to complete the ducting in two different ways in two different sizes of duct diameter. Step Three: repeat steps one and two until you’ve spent countless hours and at least $500 on supplies at Home Depot. Step Four: stare at the problem for a least 20 minutes. If you don’t blink first, your project will resolve itself, right? Step Five: go next door and find your neighbor, make them weigh in on the best way to about fixing your ducting issue. Step Six: ignore your neighbor’s advice, what do contractor’s know anyways? Step Seven: procrastinate. Step Eight: suck it up and try something.

Once I finally completed step eight, I put on my big girl panties and demoed the T, leaving just the duct coming up vertically from the floor.

I needed to connect the ducting that came up in the wall between my first floor bedroom and my closet to the front bedroom vent and then to connect the duct coming out of the second level floor to the back bedroom vent. The roofers / dormer builders had cut a hole at the top of the wall of my closet to allow access to the vent I needed to connect over to the front bedroom and it looked great. Just kidding! It looked terrrrrrible. Here is a very close up picture I took lying upside down in the closet hanging out like a crazy person half balanced on ladder.

I then used this 12 foot of insulated 4″ flexible ducting to connect the ducting in the the wall of my closet on the floor below, span over the width of the closet underneath the ceiling, and come up through a hole between the ceiling joists to connect in the wall to the vent of the front bedroom.

Ya’ll, I used so much ducting tape, it’s not even funny. And I stapled things and caulked and I realllly hope it was effective.

I then used a couple of these 6″ duct elbows to connect the duct that was coming out of the floor already to the back bedroom. I secured evvverything with a butt-ton of silver foil ducting tape and then went and returned about $450 worth of HVAC ducting to Home Depot from the 49 trips I made in a desperation.

It all worked out in the end, but I still need to get around to patching the baseboards and covering up the rest of it. For now, at least this is providing heat though!

And now…

that’s where things stand today! Not completely done, but not completely a mess either. There’s still a ton on my list for this space though:

  • Add a stair railing back in
  • Find an awesome vintage wood door with three raised panels below a half-lite. Paint and install said door.
  • Trim out door.
  • Build-in small linen cabinet / bookshelf in space to right of door over ducting.
  • Figure out transition to bathroom (see steps above) and patch-in flooring.

Once that’s all done, the space will be complete! Well, until I do a true gut reno on the kitchen and open the stairs up to it, at least. For now, though, this half completed space is working out pretty well and has been doing just fine for the last year!

I love this transformation so much. It’s one of those things that got done before so many of the other big things around the house and really set the tone for the whole design. This little stairwell guinea pig really did me right!

I just can’t believe this dormer wasn’t always here, either. It just feels right. And thank god, because at this stage of the renovation so many things were not feeling this way! That dormer is a mess, so excuse the insanity and just imagine black subway tile wainscoting and moody merlot paint, okay?

One thing I’m stuck on is art for this space! What am I supposed to put on the walls?

I almost never go upstairs so I don’t want it to be too personal, but also don’t want to leave it blank! Give me some ideas in the comments below!