So while our downstairs powder room is in shambles, I thought I’d start sharing inspiration on the kitchen, dining room, and powder room updates we’re in the process of doing right now. The above collage is my powder room inspiration – a bit Art Deco Safari, and sticking with that whole New England Regency thing we’ve got happening in the living room. I’m loving it so far and I can’t wait to show the before and after shots. While that’s in progress, a couple things I’ve been thinking about while we tackle all this renovation.
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- Are we doing this for house value, or the value of living? The area we’re in – and most of Vermont – has extremely static real estate prices, and real estate isn’t a growth investment here. That means we have to be very, very careful about how much we spend on upgrades and updates.
- Do it right, or as least as right as you can. We keep finding fixes from previous owners that were really really bad, and we’re being pretty fastidious about leaving the place in better shape than we found it. Things like moving plumbing into the wall instead of having it come up from the floor in a mess, adding insulation where there was none, removing false ceilings made of painted cardboard (why) and actually re-plastering with real plaster, straightening floors, etc. We’re not into slap up jobs or cosmetic fake improvements. But sometimes, (see point #1) we come across issues we just can’t do right. For instance, removing the entire kitchen addition and rebuilding it, which is what it really needs. So we’ll do the best we can and stay under a budget that maps to the long-term value of the house.
- Be a house whisperer. The house is from 1836 and I feel a moral duty to respect it, and to work with the bones of the house as much as possible. I try to pay attention to how we’re living in it day to day, and to make updates and design decisions that feel modern but very much allow the house to breathe and show it’s beauty.
- Decide where to spend and where to save. I’ve been researching like crazy for all the things we need. I usually end up starting by finding something expensive and then working to find a cheaper option. Sometimes I make the wrong choices on where to save (there’s a stack of boxes to return in the dining room right now). I’ll be sharing more posts on my findings, lots of great options, and where it was a bad idea to try to go cheap.
- Just do it. This madness started when the refrigerator died and we ordered a new one, making the entire kitchen look so bad that I couldn’t stand another second of it. So we did some cosmetic painting, and bit by bit we’ve redone almost the whole thing, tearing out cabinets and shelving and making it much, much better. We still have floors, a sink, an oven, and counters to replace, but it’s much more tolerable while we get around to those final touches. It’s ok that we can’t do a $50,000 blog kitchen makeover right now. I know it seems from Pinterest and blogs that everyone is just rolling in money, but those of us who are doing this in a scrappy, piecemeal way are still creating beautiful, livable, real spaces.
- If you see something you love, buy it. I have too many left-behind-while-antiquing regrets. If you really love something, grab it while you can. You’ll find a place for it. I’m always arranging and rearranging and it’s great to have options to switch around the house.