After Matt and I sold our first house, we were looking for a forever home. We visited a few houses that we liked, but most were on the upper end of our budget and we were nervous about debt. So we were thrilled when we heard that my parents’ neighbor was considering selling her house. We visited the house and fell in love with the odd floor plan, the fireplace, and the floor to ceiling windows. We knew the original owners and the history of the house and we know that they had done a really great job.  The house was in good shape, but it needed to be updated. Once we bought the house, we immediately got to work on the renovation design. The original owner had created a house that would have fit perfectly in an ad in Country Living and we wanted to keep the southern cottage feel. But we wanted something a bit more streamlined and modern – more Southern Living than Country Living – so we considered a few updates to give it a modern look. We liked the floor plan, but we wanted better access to the kitchen. We also loved having a fireplace but we wanted built in cabinetry and a fireplace surround to cover the full wall of brick.

We originally toyed with the idea of bamboo flooring, but it was so expensive that we would have to postpone our kitchen updates if we went in that direction. So we decided to keep the bare concrete floor and stain it a coffee brown to give it the feel of a dark southern wood floor. Then we chose white cabinets with shaker trim, white beveled tile, and butcher block counters to offset the modern dark feel of the concrete floor.

When it came to trim, we continued the shaker trim around the fireplace and connected the fireplace to the kitchen with homemade 4’x8’ end panels. We couldn’t find the correct size trim to make the panels, so we bought a lot of 5-1/4-inch baseboards and ripped the tops off to make them the right size (we will write a post about how we did this in the future). We went with 4-1/2-inch crown moulding and 5-1/4-inch baseboard throughout the kitchen and continued the baseboard through the house.We needed to replace the interior doors, so we bought louvered doors to match the three existing louvered closet doors. We then chose a simple casing that wouldn’t compete with the door style, but we had to rip them down to 3 inches to fit the doors that were so closed to other walls.

We prefer muted earth tones on the walls and decided on Benjamin Moore’s Buxton Blue in the bedroom, our usual go-to color. We’ve been painting our bedroom this color since we were first married and we love it. It looks beautifully blue in the daylight and slightly grayer at night. The blue goes perfectly with my grandparents’ orange Ethan Allen chair, so we incorporated that color in a few other places throughout the bedroom.

Our choice for the living room, dining room, and kitchen was Benjamin Moore’s Cedar Key. It’s a warm greige and the perfect neutral color. I find beige colors often run too warm, but this color has just enough gray to tone the warmth down. I enjoy how this color looks like a driftwood shade in natural light and beige with incandescent lights. It provides the perfect backdrop for wall art. It’s really the perfect neutral.

When it came to the office, we went with a muted shade of Tiffany Blue – we found that Benjamin Moore’s Wythe Blue fit the bill. It is just green enough to look different from our bedroom and provides a great backdrop for warm wood and red and gray accents. It would also look terrific with yellow accents. A homemade wood map sits behind the daybed and framed prints of the Tiki Room characters give the room an adventurous feel.

We have future plans for our two bathrooms, but we painted both of them Benjamin Moore’s Stone shade. It’s a lovely gray that has a purple cast in natural light and a warmer gray cast in incandescent light. We were able to replace the cabinetry fairly inexpensively by buying one sink at 75% off from Home Depot and another from a local junk yard store.

We have collected furniture over the years mostly by buying and selling on craigslist. Nearly all of our furniture is secondhand. We inherited some pieces and bought the others, fixing many of them up as we went. We prefer our biggest and most expensive pieces to be somewhat neutral – dark stained wood and painted white furniture mix well with our neutral sofa and create a blank canvas for colored décor.

All of the art in the house is original art. I painted nearly all of the pieces except for one Adolf Dehn ink drawing in the bathroom (From the Harmon-Meek Gallery in town), and a whale print over the fireplace, courtesy of home goods. I love creating art for a specific spot in the house – determining what I think would look nice and coming up with a design. It has given us a chance to decorate the house without spending a fortune.  One artwork idea you can do at home is Framed Pressed Flower Art.  It is an easy DIY project and gives the room a pop of color while incorporating nature.

Our ultimate goal for the renovation was to build something that was classic and timeless. We chose white shaker cabinets with white beveled tiles and a butcher block counter because we loved the look and it will never go out of style. Our dark concrete floor looks almost like natural stone and will be classic forever. And neutral colors allow us to buy inexpensive decorations and change them out with trends or seasons without having to change the permanent parts of the house. We have future plans for the living room and the bathrooms. We are excited to share those plans with you in the future!   We will be going over how we designed and built specific parts of the house in future blog posts, so stay tuned for more information!

See all the before and after photos of the rennovation here

Special thanks to all of our vendors:

Custom RTA Kitchen Cabinetry: Barker Cabinets

Concrete Acid Stain in Coffee Brown: Direct Colors

Benjamin Moore Paint in Buxton Blue, Wythe Blue, Stone, and Cedar Key: Paradise Paints

INSL-X Cabinet Coat Paint in Simply White: Paradise Paints

INSL-X Stix Primer: Paradise Paints

3M Accuspray HVLP Paint Gun: Single Source, Inc. in Naples

Baseboard, Crown Moulding: Smith & Deshields

Butcher Block Countertop: IKEA

Sink & Range Hood: Amazon

Faucet & Drawer Pulls: Lowes

Rentals and everything else: Home Depot



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