In our defense, we sort of needed a big house (although I think I am more of a cottage person), what with having my mother here, homeschooling, Phil working at home, and being sort of crazy. But also, it was the only house available at the time that we could afford and that wasn't either the size of a double-wide or a young hotel. I mean, we saw houses that you could rollerskate in, and by the way, didn't have a kitchen. And weren't cheap!
We just aren't the building type. In real life. We needed something with actual walls.
So here we are.
For a few years, you can show people around, saying, "We just moved in and are slowly fixing things up." After a while, that excuse gets a little lame and people are just left wondering why you live this way. You stop seeing the bare bulbs and peeling wallpaper. They see it. You don't.
And another very discouraging thing, when you're as slow (and not rich) as we are, is how the room you "just" painted is now in need of redecorating. It's been that long.
|Before: The stairs up to the third floor, before. I am responsible for painting the stairs swimming-pool blue.|
|Before: At least someone else had refinished the floors at some point.|
|Before: Bad hollow-core door. Bad outlets, if any.|
So before we started re-doing things we've already done, we figured we better get some spaces up and running. Specifically, the 3rd floor, which is way, way up there. And it's under the roof (obviously), which, while not a glamorous object, did need to be replaced a few years ago. Since then, walls were crumbling from old leaks. There was dust. There were bugs.
And yes, there was a bare bulb up there.
|Before: sad and sorry. But I do love the floors and the beautiful railing.|
These befores are embarrassing.
I hate to even show you these before pictures. I hated taking them, which is why they are not in focus -- that, and the fact that it was dark and raining, as was the norm here in the spring and summer. All my energy was going into the decisions and the preparation, and I almost forgot to take any photos at all!
A huge decision was not to go with drywall up there.
If I can take an Auntie Leila moment here to share my thought process, in the hopes of helping those of you who are just as much babies about construction as we are, I would like to say that since the temperatures and moisture levels do fluctuate a lot on the third floor, and indeed it isn't in use for a good part of the year, now that the kids are mostly out, I think it's a good idea from a housekeeping point of view to have a ceiling and wall material that will resist cracking and creating dust. I think that plaster is a good material, but expensive to recreate.
We went with a thin paneling board and, in the rooms, a batten effect that I really love -- I'll show you tomorrow. (You can see my inspiration photo here on my Pinterest board.)
|After: This is what the stairs really look like, only in a photo, it doesn't work. Lights on, weird effect. Lights off, dark. You pick :)|
|AFTER! Here you go, up the stairs! They actually aren't this super green. It's hard to take a photo that gives the right idea of them. The green is strong but not overwhelming. (Do you love the laundry basket over there? Can't concentrate on more than one thing at a time, I guess.) Additionally, note the red carpeting on both levels. That carpet goes everywhere in my house and it's a good thing I don't absolutely hate it. I realize that a more fearless person than I would have ripped it out long ago. But I can't commit to that. So things have to sort of go with it.|
You can go here on my Pinterest board for the thought process that went into this staircase color!
But I can hardly express to you the excitement we all feel at there being actual light fixtures -- two of them -- that turn on and off -- with switches! Before, the bare bulb stayed on all the time, because the cord that you pulled broke off.
It was a little third world on the third floor.
|After: A schoolhouse style light fixture. One of two.|
|After: I left the bathroom door open so that some natural light would help me out here. It's one of the few south-facing windows I have!|
|After: the hall and a peek into Sukie's room, which is also a guest room with a double bed.|
On the stairs and in the hall, we kept the walls plain, without the battens (we were running out of money and they look fine).
For all the ceilings and all the dormer slope-y places, we put in tongue-and-groove wood. Seal those ceilings! That's my thinking. Anyway, I really hope that the materials we used will be clean.
We need to put in a railing, and I am, with my branch/log/rustic mode fully engaged, on the lookout for a sturdy sapling to employ for this task. Wouldn't that be fabulous?
I've learned over the years that sometimes, the cleaning issue isn't really my fault! Here's a revelation: Some materials are easier to clean than others! Even paint quality makes a huge difference.
The paint for the stairs is Valspar French Olive in Latex floor paint. The walls and trim are all Benjamin Moore Calming Cream in pearl finish. That was my decision -- to put something durable up there (since pearl is more durable than flat or even eggshell) and not worry about having a separate trim paint style.
I wanted something light and airy and bright, but not starkly bright like a very white white. Calming Cream looks yellow on the paint chip but is a lovely true cream. I think it fits the style of our house and goes with the trim in the other rooms.
Here's another before-and-after:
|Before. Pretty, but musty.|
A couple of years ago I found this Crate&Barrel hamper that someone had set out on the side of the road. It came with the cotton liner and was fairly brand-new. But, as I discovered, it smelled very musty and nothing I did -- hosing it down, cleaning it with a stiff brush and hot water with bleach and detergent, leaving it in the sun -- made it smell better. (I did wash the liner in hot water and bleach, and that came out fine.)
I almost threw it on the burn pile.
Then I thought -- what if I spray painted it? Maybe the paint would seal up the smell.
So after many more passes with the black spray paint than it would have gotten if it had smelled just fine, inside and out, here it is! It sits at the top of my new stairs, in my new hall, holding extra blankets!
There is the story of the stairs and hall. Tomorrow I will try to post about the bedrooms! I think you will really love them. I know I love them, because they are fresh and bright and easy to clean! And ball fringe! I will post about ball fringe!