Sometimes I fall into an all-or-nothing mindset. Dead-set on doing something amazing, I fail to recognize all good stuff that’s happening in pursuit of that awesome accomplishment.
Take for example, our kitchen. Over the past weeks, Matt and I have worked countless hours on covering up colonial blue woodwork, picking out paint colors, patching walls and eventually made some good cosmetic progress on that country-looking disaster zone. The progress was definitely blog-worthy, but it wasn’t perfect. The gray-green paint color was, well, gray and not green at all. The travertine flooring and new countertops that were part of my original vision were tabled for a new roof.
In my disappointment that I hadn’t fully realized my vision, I lost sight of everything we did right. Especially the stuff that actually matters, like spending time with my husband doing something we both really enjoy. For the first time since Ava was born, we got a babysitter or worked while she was sleeping so we could do all of the grunt work together. We listened to music, picked on each others’ painting skills and ultimately had shared sense of accomplishment.
So in the spirit of celebrating the process, here’s a quick photo tour of what we accomplished and what we’re looking forward to taking on in the fall.
BEFORE - As in, before we moved in.
WORK IN PROGRESS
First, we gave the room a heavy dose of color therapy by painting the ceilings, beams and pocket doors white. The wall color was a bit of a debacle – I picked out a green-grey at Lowe’s that I had color-matched in Benjamin Moore at a local paint store and it was a total miss. So the institutional color you see here will be repainted in the near future.
We picked out a drum light fixture from Shades of Light in a Chevron pattern. We wanted to go with something that injected both texture and fun into the room. I fully recognize that Chevron is a trend that will likely see its end in the near future, but since the drum shade can be replaced pretty affordably, it’s a nice way to switch out patterns and styles in the future.
We quickly grew a collection of bottles from old antique stores, relatives’ basements, Etsy and HomeGoods for the ledge just below the ceiling. The different tones of glass had sparkle to the room.
Faced with a lot of wall space to fill, we opted for hanging a large mirror. I’m still getting used to it. It definitely opens up the room, but I’m seeing a lot more of myself than I’m used to.
Phase 2 of the kitchen re-do will involve bringing together the disjointed cabinet side you see here on the right with the rest of the room and lightening things up a bit. The black appliances will be replaced with stainless steel ones. The backsplash will get either cream or light green glass subway tiles. The countertops will be replaced with a lighter toned granite or possibly marble. And the flooring will be a creme travertine in a herringbone pattern that I fell in love with several months ago.
No – I’m not referring to Mad Men’s perennial ice-queen Betty Francis’ highly memed weight gain. It’s that dungeon of a house she moved into post-Don Draper. I recognize that not everyone in my modest readership watches the AMC show, so stick with me, I promise we’ll move past this example soon.
This past week’s Mad Men gave a glimpse into Betty’s new life which, it ends up, is just as miserable as her life with Don (the common denominator here being, well, Betty). Her life isn’t just dark metaphorically – the Francis household is literally dark, stark and reeking of malaise.
Obviously there’s a lot more to solving the problem that it is Betty, but I think lightening up that house of hers is good start. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for every color in the rainbow, but living with dark-stained woodwork, forest green and dark maroons and heavy, dark fabrics the way the Francises do, it’s no wonder all Betty wants to do is hole away and eat a couple sundaes.
Sometimes - actually most of the time - all it takes is a good coat of paint to elevate the mood of a room. Look for the “light-sucks” (that is, things that suck up light instead of reflecting it and passing it on) in your rooms. One major light-suck in our home was our brick fireplace in the den. It just kind of deadened the one corner and did nothing to contribute to the otherwise cheery nature of the room. So we painted that gloomy sucker white.
BEFORE: It’s just kind of blah and sad…
AFTER: It’s much happier, reflecting light throughout the room…
Carpets and wallpaper can be light-sucks, too. Not to pick on our home’s previous owners, but you can see how much the mood changes when you lighten up.
Dining Room Before: Even though it was a relatively light color, the carpet, paired with the rich mauve wallpaper gave the room a dark feeling.
Dining Room After: The wood floors and white trim reflect light for a clean, happy look.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not opposed to dark colors altogether. I like the coziness that rich colors and fabrics can provide. In fact, I almost painted my dining room (pictured above) slate gray, until a warning from my sister and a little sample testing revealed that while I really like it for lounges, pubs and sexy places, it just doesn’t fit my life or style. When it comes to my living spaces and the people I like to fill them with, I like it keep things happy and bright.
New to Haven? Take a tour and see some befores and afters, or check out my favorite local shops and websites for more design inspiration.
Our exterior is bugging me. Nearly two years after we had our exterior prettied up, we still haven’t painted the front door and everything looks kind of disjointed. It’s not just blatant procrastination or project fatigue (although those factor in as well), it’s a lack of creative vision that’s getting in the way.
The front door is a blank canvass for expressing style and creativity. I’ve been leaning toward yellow or red, but still struggling to make the commitment, I decided to see what other homeowners are doing. So last week I took to the streets with camera in hand to capture creative exterior color schemes around Lancaster, PA. Mind you, I don’t know the people who live in these homes, so I did most of this photography incognito during the workweek, driving slowly through pretty neighborhoods and popping out my car quickly to take the shot. I felt a bit like a private eye. A private dick for exterior styling, I guess you could say.
In the process, I learned a few things about exterior colors.
#1 : Painted brick allows for the most creative latitude. Once you’ve painted brick, you can’t go back, but you can always change up every decade or so depending on color trends and preferences.
#2: Pretty colors like baby blue work don’t just work on the inside, but on the outside, too.
#3: Again, you can go any direction with painted brick.
#4: It doesn’t have to be matchy-matchy. Here blue shutters are paired with an olive green door. And it works.
#5: Playful door colors work even on homes with more sophisticated architectural details, like the one shown here.
#6: Going for it is always awesome.
# 7 - Did I say it doesn’t have to be matchy-matchy? Well it doesn’t have to not be matchy-matchy either.
As for my home, I’m still making up my mind. But what I learned is that I gravitate toward homes that take chances with color and don’t take themselves too seriously. After all, it only takes one quart of paint and a small investment of time to make a big impact.
I’m always interested in second opinions, so I’d love to have you weigh in on your favorite front door colors. Use that comment feature below.
Launching a home design and décor blog gives me a little trepidation. I mean, in the big scheme of things, does it really matter what your home looks like? Well, yes and no.
No – having an awesome floor plan or buying a super-sweet tufted sofa won’t solve the world’s ills or make you a better person. Focusing purely on appearance in some sort of Vanity Smurf fashion does nothing for the soul.
On the other hand, pursuing your passion can do a lot for the soul. At least that’s what Deepak tells me. And for most of my adult life, my passion has been in realizing the full potential of my home. From our first house – a sad foreclosure on Cabbage Hill – I was hooked. Seeing how a little design vision, elbow grease and dedication could completely transform a space that was so neglected into a beautiful backdrop for our everyday life was inspiring.
Today, we Schlegs are on our third home, which fortunately for us, has great bones and was built to last, but needs lots of cosmetic love. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Tied to our computers for most of the day, the act of ripping down wallpaper, sanding bookcases or tea-bagging floors (it’s a legit technique, okay?) balances things out a bit. That up-close-and-personal relationship between home and owner somehow gives us a deeper appreciation for this place, this haven we’ve created together.
So this project, Haven, is a celebration of unabashed house love. If home design and décor doesn’t matter to you, I’ll be the last person to suggest that it should. But if you’re the kind of person that gets all excited about choosing new hardware for your kitchen or putting a fresh coat of paint on your front door just for the hell of it – well, you’ve got a place here. A place that won’t judge you for visiting HomeGoods upwards of three times a week.
And so ends my obligatory “welcome-to-my-blog-here’s-the-general-concept-behind-it” post. I’m looking forward to sharing new content in the coming weeks - and always interested in hearing from fellow home design enthusiasts on their latest projects, ideas and inspirations. I want to hear from you! Please use that comment button!