Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ranch Renovation Diary -- Before and After

It's the end of June, and a storm is on the way. As I drive up to the ranchburger, the sky darkens with an apocalyptic fury, promising wildness and drama. Sure enough, a thunderbolt forks across the sky, followed by thunder, the crack of doom. I just know something will go wrong at the jobsite. Until now, the renovation has been smooth, which means the gods of remodeling are probably on the roof, drinking martinis and poking holes in the shingles.

A gust of wind tugs at my hat as I walk around the yard. I am worn to a frazzle, yet I must keep going. A dozen choices must be made. Paint, bathroom mirrors, lighting, switch plates. Just when I think I can't make another decision, I turn a corner, and my whole viewpoint changes.

I seldom show the not-so-delicious parts of our lives. I try not to dwell on negative people or events, and believe me, there are plenty of both. It's much more soothing to write about paint colors or to share an upside-down cake. A year ago, when a ranch house came into our lives, I wasn't tickled to pieces. Nothing was wrong with the house, mind you. It was sturdy, with gardens, a lovely view, and amenities galore.

My heart and soul belonged to another house, but it was time to move on. Time to dream another dream. Still, when I imagined myself setting the table or cooking an omelet, I did not picture myself in the burger's kitchen. And for me, food is an emotional barometer. It nourishes my family, yes, but it also restores my equilibrium. Cooking is healing. A kitchen is the place where I feel most at home. But I digress.
A year later, the ranch is stealing my heart.

Today, I must figure out what to do with the side elevations. They are brick. Back in the 90s, a previous owner had painted the house a pinkish beige (the pink only shows up in certain lights). Now, we have to decide if we will continue the shake along the side or paint the brick.

I met with a color consultant from Benjamin Moore.

At the last minute, I add a color to "match" the shake, BM Jackson Tan, from the historic collection--it's the one on the far left; we also pick samples of Gettysburg Gray, Sandy Hook, and 3 other colors. We all like Jackson Tan, even though it may need tweaking. 
In the meantime, we are getting bids on the cost of paint vs. shake.

I walk around to the front of the house. The old windows and the new are the same size. Below, on the right, you can see the first of three faux dormers that are being installed. Hopefully they will add a little charm, similar to "eyebrow" windows. The dormers will have rounded, copper-topped roofs, cute little windows, and shake siding with crisp, white trim.

The "wings" at each end need a little something...but what? Window boxes? A trellis?

I am smitten by the idea of an over-the-window trellis. 

The interior is almost finished. I step into the kitchen and almost burst into happy tears. Jimmy has brought the hutch. He'd made it out of heart pine, then beat the pants out of it with chains. I can't wait to put dishes on those shelves. At Christmas, I'll add a magnolia garland across the top.

Another decision lays ahead--I must choose a chandelier for the breakfast room. Thunder booms outside as we hold up two fixtures--yep, trouble is almost here, just as I'd predicted, and it has come in the form of a hair-raising choice. 
A word about the house: over the years, it developed a discordant design, which I've been trying to reign in, but the kitchen's style is Modern Country. The square brass lantern is elegant, and I adore the interesting lines, but it feels wrong. The spidery Belgian chandelier is very pretty and doesn't block the view--but it fades into the walls. On the plus side, I like its rustic glamour, size, and shape.

It works with my table.

Then I remember a chandelier that came with the house, and it had been  removed when we painted the sunroom. We found the item in the garage, wrapped in plastic.

Medana enlists Sergio's help. The chandelier has clean lines--and it echoes the tones in the hutch.  Also, it won't block the view. 

It's lower than the other chandelier, but that's a plus in my book. And at night, the lights will twinkle through the bay window. 

As my gaze sweeps across the kitchen, I remember how I'd dithered about making changes. The room had been lovely and traditional.

It took a leap of faith to shake up the design, replacing the small casement windows over the sink with an unorthodox wall of windows. 

A long island had been a gamble, too, and its sheer size had given us fits when we'd looked for granite and marble. I pull out my notebook and write: look for simple-but-comfortable counter stools.

I move to another room.
We made a dramatic change to the foyer--knocking down walls, adding columns, and replacing windows. Because this area faces a porch, sunlight was limited, so I painted the room BM White Dove. The trim is BM Simply White. 

Simpson doors, a beadboard ceiling, and extra outlets for Christmas lights! On the far wall, I'm putting an old chest with brightly colored art above it. 

Another "before" view.

The wall was blown out and arches were built. A beadboard ceiling was added, too.

The windows were replaced here, too, along with a new door. Our Marvin rep helped us save a bit of money when he suggested that we not alter the size of the windows. We went with Marvin Integrity (no, they didn't ask me to shill for them)--wood on the inside and clad on the exterior (matched to BM White Dove--all the exterior trim is that color).

The dining room had been used as a study (so pretty) by the previous owner. 

Here's the empty room.

Jimmy, my intrepid cabinet maker, built doors to cover the bookcases. We painted the walls BM White Dove.

The original laundry room was cute, but space was limited, due to a hot water heater (it was tucked behind folding doors).

We removed the heater (replaced it with a tankless model) and reclaimed some space from the dining room (butler's pantry/cabinet).

This space will be a combined food pantry/laundry room. Jimmy built open shelves and Shaker cabinets. Butcher's block will go on the counters.

The washer/dryer will go here.

An interesting, slightly shocking side note: I had to decide about electrical switches--did I want them to be white or did I want to stick with the original almond? I hadn't given it a thought. For the whole house, the price tag to change to white would be over $1,000. Nope, not kidding. I thought they meant the switch plates--something even I could change. But no, the electricians meant the actual switch that turns  on the light; and the plastic sockets in which you plug in a vacuum cleaner. The price was so high because the thingies would need to be rewired. I made a decision in 1 second. Not changing anything. (My GC had thought ahead, ordering white plugs for the new outlets in the kitchen.)

I am trying not to repaint the extensive trim in the man cave. 

But the walls are another matter. If they are lighter, the ceiling will soar. 
(I think.)

The man cave is a huge space, and I need to find the right color before the room is painted. So far, I've tried BM Linen White, a mixture of Decorator's White and Linen White, Elephant Tusk, Natural Wicker, and Ballet White. BM Natural Wicker is in the lead (it's the color the Ben Moore consultant suggested). You can see it below, on the far left; in person, it has more depth, and it appears to work with the draperies and trim color. BM Ballet White is on the far right, and BM Elephant Tusk is in the center (a bit yellow for this space).

I hope Natural Wicker won't turn yellow or pink. The consultant says it won't, that the gray-green walls are throwing things off. A large swatch on the wall may show how this color will react in this large (think bowling alley), dark space. 

The screened porch will get a haint blue ceiling for sure.

Walls in the "bedroom wing" will be repainted. The Ben Moore consultant advised to save money by using the same wall and trim colors through the space. Also, if I picked a half dozen off whites, I would need to worry if they veered into cool or warm territory, or I could end up with a muddled mess. Undertones could be an issue. And, in the end, I may not even notice the subtle color changes. Was it really worth it to bump up the cost?
So, for the trim, we'll run BM Simply White through the whole space. All of the walls will be BM White Dove. I loved Ballet White, but it looked very chalky in this room (probably the green paint influenced it). 

I am breaking the mold in the Master Bath by painting the trim BM White Dove. The walls will be BM Pale Almond, and Simply White was too stark for the warm cabinets, which I really don't want to repaint. The consultant agreed.
For all hollow core doors in the bedroom wing, I pulled the trigger and chose BM Onyx in high gloss.

With all of the changes going on, I forgot to tell you about the 70s carport. This space has loads of potential! Because it sits beneath a screened porch, my GC was a little concerned about enclosing it (rain = possible leaks). But he said it was possible. I thought about this area a long time, like, a year.

Mainly it was used as a catch-all.

We're adding Bermuda shutters to the lower level. Inside, I hope to (eventually) create an open air, rustic garden room/potting area.

I hope to add window boxes here and there--on the garden porch and elsewhere.

Finally, I return to the kitchen.
I had kept the appliances from my beloved Georgian, and they've been in storage until now. I can see myself rolling out pie dough in the kitchen. I can see my family gathered around the island.

I can almost hear a singing tea kettle, can almost smell the scent of baking bread.
When I step outside, the air feels light and cool. The afternoon storm has missed my hilltop. As I head down the sidewalk, I turn a corner and see hydrangea bushes. I've been waiting and waiting for them to bloom, and here they are. My favorite flower in the world is welcoming me home.

Hope you enjoyed the update. Have a great weekend.

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  1. Wowza, I cannot imagine the amount of hard work and stress that has gone into this, but your ranchburger is breathtaking! Gorgeous!

  2. I can see it, too. The place has charmed you. It is going to be outstanding.♥

    Switches and outlet changes is consuming. My husband did all of ours, and it seemed to take forever.

    1. Oh, thank you, Beverly. I also had to pick a cover for the flush floor outlets. Brass is standard; wood is special order. I chose brass, which the electricians had in their van.

  3. Oh, I do love this house and you are definitely making it into a dream.

  4. Wow! Things are coming along nicely! I'm sorry to hear about the thousand dollar charge to change out the switches and outlets. Yikes! We have been slowly room by room been changing ours out. They used to be white, I believe ? Hubby has been doing it himself, it does get tedious I admit. Every day I see one we missed lol I am so excited to see your kitchen when it's done. You have great design style and I can't wait for the reveal. We just finished a butlers pantry in mine and I am still drooling over the storage I got for dishes. So to see yours with those beautiful ceiling tall cabinets? Can't wait!

  5. Love the update. Oh my...your pine dish dresser in the kitchen is beautiful!!!! Things are looking grand! Sheila

  6. Totally enjoyed the update, Michael Lee. I stand in awe of your vision to change homes. I wish I had that kind of eye. The new windows, French doors, and the kitchen and dining room are all spectacular. I can see you very much at home in this beautiful kitchen, and the builtin cabinets in the dining room are swoon worthy for this dish lover. I know this project must be overwhelming full of headaches, but you are going to move in to an amazing home. Kudos to you and the Dr. and your team of experts. Thanks for sharing an update. I love following along with all the details.

  7. I am so excited for you, to see it all come together and hear your enthusiasm as you write about it, warms my heart to the core.
    I adore the pine cabinet and all the bead board ceilings. WOW!! My heart skips a beat when I see the beautiful kitchen to be. Amazing! What a cozy and inviting home you are going to have, it is going to be stunning and homey at the same time.

  8. Hi Sweetie Pooh! Oh, I can hear it in your voice (words) this house has spoken to you and won your heart! I know your heart was set on the previous one you started to remodel, but this house seems more you to me. More cozy, more homey along with being so elegant! I love love all you've done and the dining room is going to be marvelous! I love that you had your guy add the doors. So much wonderful storage for your pretties. Opening up and adding the wonderful windows - gorgeous! I'm so proud for you and Im not jealous at bit! :) Look at that stove! Oh, Lord have mercy! :) Girl, your burger is going to be rare! Soon you can say - stick a fork in it, we're done! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  9. Lots of work but looks great.

  10. Love, love, love it all!!! You inspire me everytime. Can't wait to it all finished :)

  11. Michael,
    Everything is coming together so nicely. That pine cabinet is beautiful and full of character. I could just sit and look at the view out those windows for hours. Thanks for sharing.
    Lori from LL Farm

  12. Oh my goodness, this is just beautiful! I love those french doors in the kitchen. I applaud you for each and every decision - you could design my home anytime!

  13. Your pine hutch is beautiful. That will look fabulous when it's decorated. I like the open shelves in the butlers pantry and the chandeliers you picked out. It's funny how one "little thing" such as changing the electrical plates can cost such a fortune. I,would also have voted no and spend the $1000 to some extra window boxes outside or something! We are all wishing you luck!

  14. I don't know how you do it, all the endless attention to's going to be breathtaking~

  15. Sometimes I think making all the zillions of decisions is the most exhausting part of renovating (or building new). It looks like you are transforming your house into a gorgeous home. Can't wait to see it when it's finished!

  16. I check out your blog daily hoping for such a detailed update. Today was the jackpot! LOL. Your ideas are so inspiring & your taste is impeccable. Just know that for everyone that drops you a note I suspect there are dozens who follow along & drool over your exquisite taste. Hang in there. Renovation decisions are never easy & often call for 'do overs', but you are creating another masterpiece.

  17. Beautiful in ever aspect Michael and I am so happy for you that your vision is becoming a reality. Re your choice BM HC46 (Jackson Tan) for the brick I think is a wonderful choice but IMHO also agree that it may need some tweaking to accommodate metamerism and the eventual change in colour of the shakes. On the subject of light switches/covers and outlets; I have been known to paint them to blend/co-ordinate. Yes, I am 'a beggar for punishment' when it comes to detail ... ☺. Method: Lightly sand, then using a sponge brush apply a coat of good primer (Zinsser's Bullseye 1-2-3). Let dry then paint using your chosen colour and complete with a clear acrylic matte finish. As a footnote, it is amazing how a high-gloss sealer will transform a cheap plastic switch plate cover into one that resembles porcelain or fine china whereas a semi-gloss finish over a faux painted one can duplicate your favourite ceramic tile. Just remember that once the sealer is applied, the colour will be slightly intensified. ( Also, for those who may wish to try it, please be cautious as you will be working around live electricity and I do want you to be lighting up.) Wishing you a beautiful Sunday. -Brenda-

  18. It is looking so good and I know you are overwhelmed with decisions. I would love to be making decisions like that. Just enjoy the process. :)

  19. Loving these update posts, Michael. What an amazing home this is becoming. I am enjoying watching you work your magic.
    Thanks so much for stopping by. I think we will call our trim guy and see if he can hang the lattice or knows someone. Parkinson's (J) and Vertigo (Pat) keeps us away from ladders. Although we were up one the other day, putting tureens etc. above the cabinets. That is nothing like dangling over a stairwell!!

  20. #1- I loe the shake siding. #2- I love the idea of an over the window trellis. You guys have done a great job on the house.

  21. Heavens, I'm tired just having read about all you're doing! I love all the natural light.

  22. Thanks so much. Really enjoyed the update. I'm in the last 10% of building a new house and have found your blogs so helpful and encouraging while making sooo many decisions. Love all your selections. Please tell me what paint you are using for haint blue ceiling. I have to give our painter that choice this week.

    1. It's Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue. At my last house, I used Sherwin Williams Meandering Blue, which is a tad more aqua. Good luck with your build!

    2. Perfect! Palladian Blue is the color selected for the front door with black-green shutters. It should look great on the porch ceilings. Love the ranchburger and your wonderful renovating ideas. Thanks so much for the reply.

  23. . . .and all the hard work and mind-numbing decisions will fade away . . . . It's coming together beautifully! Pat yourself on the back.

  24. Oh Michael... the house is really becoming a home and I'm so happy for you. I know how hard it is to leave a house you truly love (trust me), but this one will be wonderful. In fact to my eyes, it already is. You've given it magic, my friend.


  25. Simply beautiful. I can't imagine making all the decisions that you have done so well. God bless.

  26. This was such an awesome post! I love seeing all the changes along with reading all of your comments to go with each! Your home is gorgeous!

  27. First of all, I never realized how magnificent your views is no wonder you chose the Ranchburger....your home is coming along so beautifully....I love the Jackson Tan on the walls...and thought of you possibly doing the window trellis is amazing...I love that look.....I am so loving following along with the amazing transformation of your home!....