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Modern life and design in our historical American Foursquare home

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House Tour

State of the House: Downstairs, outside and more

By on January 15, 2015


We’re almost done reviewing all the progress (and um, lack of progress) we’ve made on our home so far, before jumping into our project ideas for 2015. In our last two posts we looked at the first floor and second floor, so now let’s head into the basement and then outside to see what’s left on our home improvement to-do list.


Basement

Basement Woodworking Studio | Rather Square

Basement Woodworking Studio | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

When we bought our house, the basement was divided into a semi-finished room (used by the former owners as a music rehearsal space) and an unfinished utility area. We haven’t done much to the utility area except upgrade the laundry machines, but John spent some time last year remodeling the other room to be his woodworking studio (pictured above). We definitely owe you a couple of posts on that project! The rest of the basement will be a long-term, small-sections-at-a-time renovation.


Exterior

Repairing Stucco | Rather Square

Built-In Window Boxes | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

Here we’ve got some small projects we can tackle easily (like upgrading the rusty battered mailbox) and huge ones that we’ll have to save up for (like repainting the entire exterior). The front and back entrances of the house are both somewhat dilapidated and will need attention soon – we’ll probably repaint and reinforce them as a short-term fix and then totally rebuild them down the road.


Garage

Garage, Before | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

The garage was built around the same time as our house, so it’s almost a century old. While the structure itself is solid and the roof was replaced by the previous owner, our home inspection noted that the original foundation has become very unstable over time. There are huge heaving cracks in the concrete floor caused by water damage that are getting worse every year. So, inspired by an episode of Rehab Addict, we got an estimate last year to lift up the garage structure, remove the old foundation, and repour a new one. It’s much more cost-effective than building a whole new garage, especially since the current walls and roof are still in good condition. Now that we have a quote, we’re hoping we can get these garage issues addressed before the foundation deteriorates much further.


Landscaping

Front Yard Landscaping | Rather Square

Annabelle Hydrangea | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

Our home’s previous owner spent a lot of thought and energy on the landscaping around the property. But while the ornamental garden, bushes and trees are beautiful, we don’t have enough time or resources to maintain them on the extensive level they require. So we’ve started redesigning the landscaping to better fit our interests and needs. The most dramatic transformation so far has been when John cut down our yews last summer, and we want to continue reimagining this front yard space with more inviting curb appeal.


Energy systems

Installing a Thermostat | Rather Square

Old Furnace, New Furnace | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

Even though our old house has a brand-new furnace, air conditioner, whole-house humidifier, and smart thermostat, it’s still woefully under-insulated, so we lose a lot of heat and energy through the outside walls and attic. We’ve gotten some preliminary estimates to add modern insulation that seem reasonable, but we need to save some bucks for that substantial project.


Whew, it feels like we’ve got enough work on our to-do list to last the next million years! Now we just need to decide what should be given top priority to complete by the end of this year.

What project(s) do you think we should work on first? What’s on your home improvement to-do list this year? Let us know in the comments!

Missed our recap of the first and second floors? Check those out here:
State of the House: First floor
State of the House: Second floor

January 15, 2015

State of the House: Second floor

By on January 12, 2015


Before we jump into our 2015 plans for the house, we’re reviewing what we’ve done so far in terms of home improvement, renovation, and DIY projects. Things definitely slowed down a little last year after Baby T came along – life with a newborn and a toddler is fun but exhausting! – but now it’s time to check up on our progress and think ahead to what we want/need to accomplish.

We already looked at the first-floor rooms here, so now let’s head upstairs to the second floor.


Stairs/Upstairs Hallway

New carpet over stairs | Rather Square

Stairs Landing Banister Progress | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

There’s a nice mix of projects on the to-do list for this space – small things we can do quickly and economically, and others that will take more time and money to complete. When we tore out the old red carpet, we were happy to see hardwood flooring and nice stair treads (see top photo), but at the time we opted for new carpeting on the stairs for a more kid-friendly surface. Down the road when the kids are older, we’ll definitely take that off and refinish the wood instead.


Toddler E’s Bedroom

Toddler Girl Bedroom | Rather Square

Moodboard for Toddler's Bedroom | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

The toddler’s bedroom is nearly finished, and we plan to post a room reveal once we’ve hung some art in there. One thing we struggle with (in this room and all over the house) is how to hang things on the plaster walls. It’s a little trickier than drywall, and we don’t want to damage anything or have artwork falling down because it’s not secured properly. We’ve been brainstorming ideas – install picture rails? or maybe build some shallow ledges to prop frames up on like these? – but please let us know if you can share any insights or experiences!


Toddler E’s Playroom

Curtains for the Playroom | Rather Square

Curtains in the Playroom | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

One of our biggest regrets is not having the playroom carpet replaced when we did the rest of the old carpeted areas of the house. Since it was different (and newer) than the red carpet that was worn and ugly, I thought we could just keep it as-is. But soon after we moved in, we noticed a distinct cat-urine odor in the room (from the previous owner’s pets) that we haven’t been able to get rid of by deodorizing or deep-cleaning the existing carpet. So now replacing it is back on our to-do list.


Nursery

How to Paint Fabric Drawers | Rather Square

Moodboard for Nursery | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

Like the toddler’s bedroom, the nursery decor is almost done except for some artwork and trim/door painting. I’d also like to put different curtains in here – the ones we got originally are too sheer and don’t block light well enough for naptime, even with blackout shades over the windows. Otherwise, we’re really pleased with how this room has evolved, and we’ll share the room reveal soon!


Main bathroom

Our Budget Bathroom Update | Let There be Light (Part 2) | Rather Square

Budget Bathroom Update | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

Since this is our home’s main bathroom (we’ve got one with a shower stall in the basement that we don’t use very much), it’s got to have optimum function to support four people on a daily basis. The budget bathroom updates we made last summer helped improve this room a lot, but down the road we’d like to do a complete renovation and modernize the design of this space as much as possible. And we also plan to add a half-bathroom on our first floor sometime in the future, so we (and our guests) don’t need to climb stairs when hanging out on the main level.


Master bedroom

Painting the Master Bedroom | Rather Square

Painting the Master Bedroom | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

I commented recently on Making it Lovely’s blog that John and I have been prioritizing the design of the kids’ bedrooms over our own. Beyond painting and replacing the carpet, we haven’t done much in the master bedroom since we moved in. But as you can see, there’s a very long to-do list! Everything from hanging art and replacing the red window blinds to refinishing the hardwood floors under the carpet and renovating the closet. This room is also the draftiest one in the house (due to some air duct issues and a general house-wide lack of insulation), and our electric blanket is only a temporary solution.


We’ve still got a lot to do up here on the second floor. Some rooms are much further along (like the nursery and the toddler’s bedroom) than others (sorry, master bedroom!).  But it’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?

We have a few more areas of the house to take a look at in our next post… stay tuned!

Check out our recaps of the first floor, basement, garage, and exterior as well:
State of the House: First floor
State of the House: Downstairs, outside and more

January 12, 2015

State of the House: First floor

By on January 7, 2015


Happy 2015! With a new year beginning, we thought we’d put together a kind of “State of the House” report. We’ve already done a lot of home improvement, renovation, DIY, and overall re-designing of our home’s look and function, but there’s still so much more that we want to do. So I thought taking stock of our progress so far would help inspire and motivate us to keep going.

This is (hopefully) our forever home, so we’re not in a huge rush to get everything finished and perfect. We’re working on our project plans for 2015 currently and we’ll share those (and how well we did with our ideas for 2014) in the next few weeks. Taking a slow-but-steady approach to fixing up our house helps as we also try to balance daily life, family and other priorities. Now that Baby T is four months old (!) and things are settling down a little, we’re ready to look forward.

So let’s take a look at each room/area to review what’s we’ve accomplished and what’s still on our to-do list. Here’s where we are with the first floor of the house.


Living Room

Built-In Bookcase: Intentional Style | Rather Square

Living Room (Sunroom Play Area) Progress | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

This is the room where we spend most of our time, so it needs to stay organized and functional – not just pretty! – to fit our growing family. And with six windows, it gets a lot of nice natural light… but the current dingy old mini-blinds kind of spoil the view. Hopefully, we can replace those with something bright and happy soon.


Entryway

Entryway Progress | Rather Square

Entryway Progress | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

Another room that needs a lot of functionality and a big dose of style. Right now it’s an unorganized catchall for shoes, bags, and mail/packages, but we’d like to create a custom mudroom area here (next to the front door) to efficiently store seasonal outerwear and accessories.


Office

Paper Shredding | Rather Square

Designing our Home Office | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

We had such grand plans for this room in 2014, but they were largely put on hold for more pressing priorities that came up. We’ll have to see how (and if!) the remaining office re-design projects fit into our schedule and budget this year.


Kitchen

Kitchen Progress | Rather Square

Kitchen Dishwasher

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

There is A LOT on the kitchen to-do list! We’ve replaced a few appliances and fixtures, but haven’t really made any aesthetic design changes yet. Everything is so brown in this room – it needs to be opened up with some contrast and a brighter color palette. Last year we talked about possible future plans for a big kitchen renovation, so we need to decide if that’s still in the cards/budget for 2015.


Dining Nook

Padding under new carpet | Rather Square

Overgrown Smoke Tree | Rather Square

Completed!

Still to do…

General thoughts:

We envision this little room getting more and more use in the coming years, as the kids get older and we start having regular family meals here. It’s a small space, so we’d like to maximize its efficiency by re-imagining the eating area and creating a back-door mudroom (a mini version of the one we’re planning for the entryway). And the striped faux-texture wallpaper has got to go!


So that’s the renovation recap of our first floor as of the end of 2014. It’s come a long way from red walls and bad carpet, but there’s still plenty of projects left to keep us busy. And next we’ll take a look at the second floor. .. stay tuned!

Check out our recaps of the second floor, basement, garage, and exterior as well:
State of the house: Second floor
State of the House: Downstairs, outside and more

January 7, 2015

Blog updates!

By on December 16, 2013


Just a quick post to let you know about some exciting blog updates we’ve been working on!

First, the House Tour page has been expanded and enhanced, with links to specific rooms of our home and some of the top posts we’ve done. You can get there by clicking the House Tour link in the top navigation bar.

House Tour | Rather Square

We’ve also added a Subscribe feature to the blog. You can receive new posts delivered directly to your email – how convenient! Just sign up on the right sidebar. Don’t worry, we won’t use your email address for anything else or spam you. And we’ve updated our About page, too.

Enjoy!

December 16, 2013

category: House Tour  • Tags:

Interior house tour (the “before” views)

By on June 6, 2013


Progress: take a look at some updates we’ve made to the entryway, stairs, living room, office, kitchen, dining nook, bathroom, toddler’s bedroom, spare bedroom, and master bedroom!

We’ve already started making updates to the interior of our house, but we wanted to show some “before” photos of what it looked like in its newly-purchased state. (And you can view “before” photos of the exterior here.) The interior of the house has a good flow, which we felt right away when we first walked through it. We liked that there was enough space for our family, but that it wasn’t too big to manage/clean/maintain. And the house’s nearly 100-year-old history and solid bones really sold us on its character and structure.

Walking in through the front door, there’s an entryway on the main floor that leads to the living room and dining room on either side, and stairs to the second floor straight ahead. To the right of the stairs is the door that leads to the basement. This entryway area has mustard-yellow walls and a flowery wallpaper border above the baseboards. And as you can see, the stairs are covered in red carpeting. What a combination!

Entryway and Stairs

Here is the living room with its red walls (which we have already changed). We love the hardwood floors in this room and the built-in bookcase, as well as all the windows. This is the largest room in the house and we spend a lot of time here.

Living Room Before

Living Room Before

Living Room Before

The dining room has the same red walls as the living room. We are thinking we will use this space more as an office than as an eating area, but it could end up functioning as both. The same dark hardwood floors run throughout this room, the entryway, and the living room. And for some reason, there is a double-dose of crown molding along the ceiling here.

Dining Room Before

The kitchen is dated, but we feel it has great potential. According to the previous owner, it was last renovated around 1995, so it needs updated appliances, flooring, and countertops. We are thinking about keeping the cabinets intact (they are solid wood and in great shape), but painting them at some point and replacing the hardware. The adjacent breakfast nook has the same red carpeting as the stairs, a big window that overlooks the backyard, and a door that leads to the deck. And some awesome track lighting on the ceiling!

Kitchen Before

Kitchen Before

Kitchen Before

Going up the stairs to the second floor, the yellow/red/flowery motif continues in the second-floor hallway.

Hallway Before

This hallway has doors to all three bedrooms, the main bathroom, and the linen closet. The bedroom we decided to use for our daughter has peach walls (kind of a dingy flesh color), hardwood floors, and a pink glass light fixture (I’m still deciding whether or not to keep this).

Kid's Bedroom Before

There is a “tandem room” attached to this bedroom that is connected by a doorway on the far side. This small room has tan carpet and knotty-pine wood-paneled walls. It’s a very convenient space for a toddler playroom, and the windows give it a lot of light and overlook the backyard. But that log-cabin atmosphere has got to go.

Playroom Before

Playroom Before

The spare bedroom looks similar to the other bedroom, with peach walls and hardwood floors.

Spare Bedroom Before

Spare Bedroom Before

The master bedroom is on the front side of the house. Peach walls in this room again, but instead of hardwood floors like the other bedrooms, the red carpeting from the hallway continues into this space. And the blinds covering the windows are red as well. Can you tell the previous owner really liked red? (below… a special cameo by our realtor!)

Master Bedroom Before

The main bathroom has the standard toilet, sink, and tub-shower combo. We don’t mind the gray of the tiles and countertop, and will work around that color for now. There is also a nice big glass-block window in this room that lets in natural light. The toilet is older and needs replacing, probably sooner than later. We’ve already replaced the shower head, and the rest of the tub-shower area is okay for now (the built-in heat lamp and fan in the shower ceiling are water-safe, according to our electrician). But the floor is covered with ugly gray-brown vinyl tile (it’s in the kitchen as well), so we’d definitely like to update this.

Bathroom Before

Bathroom Before

Bathroom Before

Bathroom Before

Finally, the basement, which is accessible by stairs from the main floor entryway, and divided into two areas. The first is an unfinished cement-floor utility room that contains things like the furnace, electrical box, water heater, the laundry machines, and other assorted exposed pipes and ducts. The other area is semi-finished (with dropped ceiling tiles and vinyl flooring), and John will fix this up to use as a woodworking studio. In addition, the basement has a half-bathroom with a shower stall. The plaster walls are peeling and falling apart in some places down here, so we’ll probably need to address that soon.

Basement Before

Basement Before

Basement Before

So that’s a first look at the Rather Square exterior and interior house tour. What do you think? We’d love to hear any thoughts and ideas!

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June 6, 2013