Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Renovation Diary: Staircase Makeover & More

Rattlebridge has become a bustling place. When I drove up today, cars and trucks were lined up on the pavement and angled on the grass. We're moving fast with the renovation because I'm writing and winter is coming--two different issues, to be sure, but both can sure put a crimp in things.
Tyler, my younger son, was in charge of the photography and I think he forgot! So we're saving some before/after shots for later.
Come along with us to see what's been going on at Rattlebridge.
It's practically impossible to decorate or renovate without paying attention to trends. However, I pay attention to what my house needs, not what's "in" or "out."
If you'd like to read about my kinky design philosophy, just skip to the bottom of this post!
Otherwise, let's walk down the hall and see the changes that have been underway. 

Part I: The Kitchen
You may already know that we decided to raise the kitchen ceiling.
Here's a peek at last week's demo:

And today:

Here's the team discussing the lighting.
Mike Cox, from Cox Construction (center), talks about the finer points with Mike Corley, my favorite craftsman, and the main electrician, Mr. Bush. The adorable blond, Medana, is Mike's assistant and daughter.
Using the inspiration photo for ideas, Mike Corley will create a similar trim on top of the existing cabs, around the window-to-be, and on the ceiling. We'll be doing more beadboard. He's even making a little place to put a clock--and the electricians are making sure we have an electrical plug. I would hate to change a battery.
We didn't raise the WHOLE ceiling...just a portion.
You can see where the old ceiling meets new below:
We are adding two lanterns (not like the ones that are pictured)
over the island, rather than one large chandelier.
We're meeting with a Marvin rep to discuss the windows, too.
We won't be adding sconces on the small windows.
photo credit: www.houzz.com
The electricians were busily reworking the wiring that was installed in 1994. They're going to add an outlet above the fridge for a small TV. Oh, but I do love a TV in the kitchen.  
One man was perched on top of the fridge!


Part II: The Back Staircase
Here's the original kitchen staircase.
[The intercom box will be moved.]

We only painted the top rail (SW Creamy),
but it looks so different and fresh. 

Part 3: Dining Room/Foyer
The original space was lovely, but the foyer seemed very dark. Tyler's idea was to knock down the wall between the two spaces.


A small portion on either side of the original opening came tumbling down, and columns were added.
Almost finished.
The wall color is original and unknown. The trim was painted SW's Creamy.I bought a chandelier earlier this year during
Renovation Hardware's sale, which will replace the original.

Not a great shot, but you can see the changes.  
I'm way in the back in my fuzzy Uggs.

Part 4: Foyer and Staircase Makeover

A look at the original foyer:


As you can see, the foyer was wallpapered. It would have been expensive to remove it, and the sheetrock would have required repair. So beadboard went up right over the paper.

My goal was to preserve original materials (older homes seem well built, don't they?). The pretty wooden spindles stayed, as did the rail. (My husband wanted wrought iron,
but I sweet-talked him out of it.)

To add a modern country vibe, I replaced the round posts. We could have ordered posts from a catalogue, which were quite expensive and I wasn't sure about the quality.
Mike Corley was brought in, and he built square posts--by hand.

Not quite an "after" shot; more like an in-progress:

Another "before" shot:

And "in-progress"
I do love beadboard!
The trend is to paint the railing black,
so, being the peverse little un-decorator that I am,
the rails were painted "Creamy."
The grilles in the window were removed shortly after Tyler took this photo (this will be updated in a future post). 
For now, let's look at the walls and trim--
we painted everything SW's Creamy.
The adjacent room will be the same. 

Now the foyer is seems sunny all the time.
Even on an overcast day, this space is flooded with light. 


It's white. As in lost-in-a-blizzard white.
But I like the crisp, bright feeling.
A sisal runner and art will bring in texture and color.

I love Velvet and Linen's foyer:

Here's Medana again, my contractor's assistant.
In addition to being darling, she is super organized and efficient,
which makes renovating so much easier! She never forgets a paint color or appliance model;
she keeps everything in a file and brings it to the meeting.

Take a look at the wall behind Medana; I am painting over the paper on the second floor. My painter "mudded" the seams and promised the paper wouldn't peel. So far, it hasn't. Indeed, it was applied in 1994, so the paper might have become part of the wall!
Hi, it's me again.
Today is December 12th, and I just wanted to add a note about design and trends.

Today's trend is to paint the interior doors black. Also, white walls seem to work best with dark floors. Contrast is the buzz word. It's a solid concept, but it is also just a word--a word that must fit your life. Black interior doors are beautiful, to be sure, but I'm bucking the trend. I'm bucking it because I am not a trendy person. 

But I know what I need and what my house needs.
That, to me, is the essense of design.

So I am painting the walls and woodwork the same color. I have 6'8" doors, not 8'. Black will only draw attention to my not-soaring ceilings. Black, or dark, interior doors will immediately become a focal point, or very close to one. And in my world, they might look like something from Alice in Wonderland. My doors aren't carved or unusual...so why draw the eye to them?
So if the trim and walls are the same, maybe the eye will rest on something else, like, a painting?

This is just me. But if I see a trend, I RUN. Fast.

Plenty more is happening at Rattlebridge.
We're painting the garage doors Urbane Bronze. 
[Why am I seemingly reversing my philosophy and painting garage doors a dark color? An upcoming post will explain.]

Also, I'd love for you to  
vote on exterior light fixtures!

I'm also painting the master bathroom cabinets and walls--I'm breaking tradition here. No white cabinets.
I'm taking a walk on the wild side. Fingers crossed.

Thank you so much for visiting today. See you later with another renovation update!

Note: The Foodie Friday link will be available Thursday evening.


  1. The raised ceiling is really going to open up your kitchen. You will love it!!!
    Such a beautiful home to begin with and so much potential.

    Blessings and Merry Christmas!

    Mary L

  2. WOW.

    Just wow. All I can say.

    Oh, and, uh, AWESOME!!!!!!

  3. Amazing transformations! That ceiling renovation really inspires me to ask if mine can be raised! Your home is just beautiful!
    Miss Bloomers

  4. You have such vision, ML. I love the inspiration kitchen, and yours is going to be fabulous. Beautiful panelling and breadboard throughout. Gorgeous!!!
    ~ Sarah

  5. This is just so much fun!!! Love all of the changes and the colors you've chosen. Make Tyler choose the light fixtures.

  6. OMG, your kitchen is going to be amazing!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE the high, high ceilings!!!! The foyer really opened up and the square pots are great. Love seeing all this. XO, pinky

  7. Wow! Your home is going to be gorgeous - already is ! This is really a major renovation project! Do I remember you saying you were downsizing ?:-D

  8. I'm always amazed at what can be done during renovations! Ceilings raised, columns added, wiring changed....
    Your home is so beautiful, Michael Lee and you're so generous to share photos with us! (Oh, and I totally understand your need to get things finished before Winter and Writing....Two very different storms! :)

  9. This will be stunning...love the updates!!

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  11. I love to see the updates on your home. What a great renovation and the kitchen looks fabulous. You're going to love living in your renovated home.

  12. Absolutely gorgeous is all I can say when I see what has been done on your house!! Awesome!!

  13. I am speechless!! I do need to add a word or three, though. Gorgeous, incredible and oh my that kitchen!

    Looking forward to more!

  14. I love what you are doing to the house! Can't wait to see the finished results. I've debated about the door color too and agree that painting the doors the same as the trim looks best unless you have an outstanding door that you want to draw attention to.

  15. I haven't been to your blog in a while and I'm amazed with the renovations you have going on! Love the clock in the inspiration photo and yours will be just as amazing! If I ever get to do a kitchen redo, I wouldn't paint the cabinets white either. Looking forward to seeing what color you choose.

  16. What a gorgeous kitchen you will have! Love the changes! I also love the walls the same color as the trim that will be pretty when the light hits it and all you see is the texture form the architectural elements and not the colors and patterns, except where you intend them with the other decor. Looking good!

  17. What a gorgeous kitchen you will have! Love the changes! I also love the walls the same color as the trim that will be pretty when the light hits it and all you see is the texture form the architectural elements and not the colors and patterns, except where you intend them with the other decor. Looking good!

  18. Ohhhh, I've been waiting on this for so long(but not quite as long as you, I'm sure!). I just
    love the new house and seeing the changes.
    Carol Cottrell

  19. The raised ceiling is just what your kitchen needed. Love, love! The house is coming along. Hope you don't hit any snags along the way and get to move soon!


  20. Your home is so amazing...I am looking forward to all of the updates!...

  21. lee,

    I love it. I like that the staircase is not right at the door, like mine it. I love the white bannister and rails with the darker wooden steps. I'm planning to change my wrought iron and wooden bannister to all wood with have the darker steps too.

    You are going to love this house.



    May you have a Merry Christmas!

  23. Oh, I never realized they were going to get such height in the kitchen. It will be wonderful - just like the inspiration picture. It is sooooo fun to have it when it is all done if you can stand it while it is happening! Best to you!!!

  24. Oh Michael - I adore all the changes you've made. Opening up that doorway between the foyer and dining room made such a difference, as did the new window in the foyer. And I've never seen bead board all the way up a wall like that - it would be great in my 2-story family room. Love it, love it.

    PS - I'm with you on the black doors - I love the look in other people's homes, but I don't want it in mine.

  25. oh my, things are coming along exquisitely! i so love your fresh white banister, i am in dire need of a makeover and may follow your que...

    your kitchen is going to be fabulous! how fun to look in after so much progress, how is the garden growing, are you still smitten ;-)

    wishing you a very merry xmas, so fun to peek in~

  26. I'm all about knocking down walls to create open spaces. We have done this in several areas in our own home. Yours looks fabulous. I actually do contrast my trim from my walls but it took me a long time to choose the trim color. I can't do white. To me it's too blah so we chose Gardenia by SW. It's not white and it's not beige. I'll bet you can hardly wait to start cooking in this fantastic new space. Enjoy it!

  27. What an amazing job! I love the staircases that look brighter and cleaner after coats of paint. Thank you for sharing great shots.

  28. Wow, you have a nice house, and you renovated it also! I like the atmosphere your new house have, it's so bright and clean. The details of your renovation is really great. Thank you for sharing!