Of course it's not actually finished, there are still things to do like replace some of the radiator covers, a few minor touch ups, hanging stuff on the walls, get a love seat and maybe another chair, get a new light fixture for the stairway, etc. but all the big projects in the living room are done. As we've been moving in and continuing with projects, I've tried to keep this room clean and decorated as a haven from the chaos that is all over the rest of the house!
So, I'll tell you a little about what we've done in here.
As you'll see in the following "before" pictures, this house was extremely out of date and even though most of the work that needed to be done was cosmetic, it was pretty extensive. What you can't see in the before photos is that this entire house was saturated in tobacco smell, plus a very heavy layer of grime, dirt and staining from the smoke, plus years of not being cleaned well, if at all. Everything in here was stained a yellowish brown- ceilings, inside of closets, cabinets, wallpaper, and we would reek of smoke just after being inside the house. Also, the woodwork throughout the house- doorframes, baseboards, windows, were all stained dark brown and we wanted it white. So, as a result, every single surface in this house- walls, ceilings, trim, inside of closet, etc. had to be primed and painted and in the case of the woodwork- 4 total coats. Let me tell you- painting windows is seriously not fun- and 4 times around is even less fun. Then they all had to be scraped, plus cleaned inside and out. I probably spent 3 weeks just priming, painting, and scraping windows in this house!
What all that adds up to is- months of painting. Before we could even begin painting we had to strip wallpaper which was in the majority of the rooms. Even the bathroom, kitchen and entry way and most of the bedrooms, and clean the walls of all the glue- which meant scrubbing every single square inch of almost every wall. Just that took almost a month alone. Ugh.
We bought Kilz primer in the big 5 gallon buckets at Home Depot, and have gone through 5 of them- 25 gallons just of primer. Sometimes I seriously wondered if we'd ever be done painting.
Here is the listing picture of the living room before. I wish this had smellavision because the picture doesn't really illustrate how bad this was. My favorite part of the living room is the fireplace. The mantle is both wide and long which makes for tons of space for decorating which I love! I also love the big wall of windows above the couch. Even though this entire house was basically a dark, dreary, smelly dungeon-like place I could see the potential that it had. I knew that we should make an offer on it as soon as we walked in the door- not because I love the layout necessarily, but because it was almost 1,000 square feet more than most of the houses we had seen in that price range, and we've got lots of people. There was no way we were going to fit our family in a 1200 square foot house. Basically, I was just looking for a place where we could all have a place to sleep, which believe me was hard to find around here. Houses are extremely expensive in our area and we had been looking off and on for over a year. I'm sure all the work scared off a lot of buyers but because we looked past that we were able to get a good sized house for less than average.
So anyway, back to the renovation. I added this next picture so you could see the walls after the wallpaper was removed. They were covered in this really gross yellowish-brown thick glue. Luckily the walls themselves were in great shape. We used hot vinegar water and scrubbed, and scrubbed,
and scrubbed some more! I should also mention that we had lots of help- hometeachers, missionaries, family, our kids, visiting teachers and other friends. We really appreciated all the help we received.
My husband came here in the mornings before work, and most nights after work, and I came some nights and we all came on the weekends. All summer I got up at 5 or 6 most mornings and worked at the house for 5 or 6 hours while the older boys babysat the younger kids.
Even though we knew the house needed work, I don't think we really knew what we were getting ourselves into as far as how long it would take and how much there was to do. We really, really worked hard. I estimate that if we had paid someone else for the work that we did it would have cost about $24,000, and really that's a low estimate of only about $15/ hour; around here probably $30/hr is more realistic. So, I guess you could say that we put almost $50,000 of sweat equity into this house!
So, besides the work we did, we also hired out some things that we weren't able to do and didn't have time to do anyway. We were very lucky that under the hideous blue carpet there were hardwood floors that were in really good shape. We ripped up all the carpet and had the floors refinished in the living room, hall, dining room and our bedroom. We also had wood put down in the kitchen where there was really ugly, broken old tile so in the kitchen and dining room, which are really just one big room, the wood flows through. The guy did an amazing job of matching the wood and you can hardly tell where the old and the new meet. It's hard to say what change had the biggest impact in this house but the wood floors might be it. That and the white woodwork. It is amazing how the white woodwork lightens up the entire house and makes it feel open, light and airy instead of closed in, dark and depressing.
So, a few decor details. Almost everything in this living room was a very thrifty, or free find, or bought at a yard sale or from a friend who was moving. This was necessary because we basically blew our budget out of the water with everything that we ended up doing to the house. The bathroom was the main cause of that. What started as a minor redo turned into a total gut job and complete bathroom reno which we hadn't planned on originally.
By the way, the wall color in here is Manchester Tan from Benjamin Moore. I could do a whole post just on paint colors and maybe sometime I will.You'd be surprised that for such a basic color there are so many variation that are so different. I know beige/tan is a boring color for a lot of people but I wanted something neutral and light in here that would go with whatever I wanted to do for all the seasons or whatever furniture we ended up with. It's really light and almost a cream. The trim is painted White Dove by Benjamin Moore.
So, do you recognize these two pillows on the couch from anywhere? If you are a fan of Miss Mustard Seed you would, they're on her blog header!
Marian is one of my favorite decorator/bloggers, I really love her style. I had wanted some feedsack pillows and had planned to look around for some feedsacks on ebay or etsy or whatever and make my own. Then I saw these on the Miss Mustard Seed blog and decided that buying some already made would be so much nicer than adding another project to my out of control project list! Marian has great taste and style and is also extremely nice. I absolutely love these pillows! The look great but I was surprised at how nice and soft they were too. She used down inserts inside and I will always use those for pillows from now on, they feel great. The only thing I'd do differently is make them with an envelope back so you could wash them.
Here is the top railing in the room that was stripped and painted. I started stripping this one day and spent 2-3 hours and had only made a small dent. Then my husband worked on it for a while and there was still so much to do. I practically cried with relief when my father in law came and took over this and some other really yucky jobs that still had to be done. By then we were exhausted and feeling pretty burnt out on the home renovation stuff. It had been a long, hard 5 months. He worked on this railing all day long for several days, probably every day for a week or more. It was such a huge help.
Here you can see the old white railing. There was a really gloppy, badly-done layer of white latex paint over the original white paint. It was streaky and didn't even really cover the whole thing. After it was stripped I used black satin spray paint to paint it. You can really see the detail of the metalwork now. Now I have to say, if I could choose any kind of railing this probably wouldn't be it, but since this is what we had to work with I was pretty happy with how it turned out.
Well, that's about all the living room info. Hopefully we will have some more rooms done and photo ready so I can show you some more soon. It's nice to finally be living in the house!